Ballroom Samba vs. Brazilian Samba ????

24May10

I found a nice instructional samba video on Youtube.  I read comments under the video.
It said, “I am Brazilian and this is not samba ! ”
Another said ,” You talk too much”

Fact:
1) — Many of the Brazilians do not like ballroom style samba —
2) — Many Brazilians think they own samba dance ———-

Myth:
1) — There is only one way of dancing samba —–
2) — Original style of dancing is superior to later developed variations of dance style ———
3) — A country where dance originates owns that particular dance —–

I watched Brazilian samba on Youtube, but after two minutes, I got bored. It’s the same thing over and over. I understand that in street dances, people (in general) have more fun. It’s rather easy to do the semi impromptu motions. To me, Brazilian samba looked like a free style fast disco dancing. You just make up steps, and shake, shake, shake it !

Perhaps there is more to learn about Brazilian samba I thought. I am not Brazilian – and I don’t know much about it except that I do samba (ballroom style).  So I looked up a video that talks about samba by Brazilian samba expert.

Here is a video on Samba dance origin and Brazilian culture by Brazilian samba dance instructor.

Some important points from the video.

1) Brazilian samba is by nature theatrical. It’s origin is Carnival. So it is very much free style. —> Myth #1 busted.
2) Brazilian carnival’s root is in Europe — Greek mythology of Bacco where also the theater came from. —-> Myth #3 busted.
3) The essence of Brazilian samba is to use imagination (to freely express) and to have fun. ———> Myth # 2 busted.

Many “original” dances are composed of repetition of simple motions which are closer to, and are more, natural. But, in my opinion, it becomes boring soon.

Espen Salberg says, “Natural is boring”
This is so true, at least, in dancing. Interesting movements in dances are invented by people. They are not inherent body movements that are required for our survival.

Here is an example of (international style) ballroom samba.

(Above: Maxim Kozhevnikov & Yulia Zagoruychenko performs theatrical presentation of samba and also cha cha)

(Above: Slavik Kryklyvyy & Anna Melnikova performs samba.)

So I must respectfully disagree with many Brazilian samba fans. As much as Brazilian samba makes it free style and is interesting, it’s great. Otherwise, if it’s going to be repetitions, I would like to pursue all kinds of variations in samba dances.  Ballroom samba is a style that allows partner dancing, and is very interesting and also challenging. Indeed ballroom samba’s rhythm came from Brazilian samba, and ballroom samba has many moves that remind of Brazilian samba.

OK.  I am not planning to visit Brazil anytime soon. But, if I am going to visit Brazil, I will find out where the above Brazilian samba instructor is at, and pay a visit. Even if I can’t dance Brazilian samba, it will be a great inspiration to watch her. Huh? You want to meet her, too?  Sorry I can’t help you. I signed a non-disclosure agreement. But, definitely, give your shot if you are in Rio de Janeiro.

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23 Responses to “Ballroom Samba vs. Brazilian Samba ????”

  1. 1 haha82

    fact
    1) No Brazilian thinks we own Samba
    2) Samba is a Brazilian genre (reggae is jamaican like samba is brazilian)
    2) Samba is a social dance, made more for having fun and partying than competition
    Myth
    1) Ballroom dancing is samba
    2) Brazilian samba is repetitive: during a samba parade you arent constantly doing those exact footsteps, you stop and just naturall bounce to the music

  2. Actually you are incorrect on several accounts. There is the street samba that you see in Carnaval and Brazilians also have what is called Samba de Gafieira which is a partnered version of samba and which is also very different from both street samba and ballroom samba. There can be more than one version of a dance but to be part of a country where samba is such a large part of a country and then go to the states and see what passes for samba out here is offensive to some and with reason. Ballroom samba is also much easier to do and it is rude to discount the talent and coordination it takes to do street samba.

  3. 1. The brazilian Ministry of Culture declared Samba (rhythm developed in Rio de Janeiro, AKA “Samba carioca”) as Brazil’s immaterial cultural patrimony. It was registered at the Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (Iphan):

    http://www.cultura.gov.br/site/2007/10/10/samba-patrimonio-cultural-imaterial/

    2. UNESCO declared “Samba de Roda” (the samba developed in the brazilian state of Bahia) the world’s immaterial cultural partimony:

    http://portal.iphan.gov.br/portal/baixaFcdAnexo.do?id=1800

    3. After a couple of weeks of research, I realized that 99% of what brazilians and non-brazilians consider to be “Samba” (musical genre) fall into one of these Samba (music and, sometimes, dance) styles:

    Samba Exaltação: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mQHr8bAojU&t=33s

    Samba Canção: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFfwRYf3YzE

    Samba de Partido Alto: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uax_rK7zC3M&t=42s

    Pagode (a variation of Samba de Partido Alto): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_dcO4NX3_Q&hd=1

    Suingueira (a variation of Pagode): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOCZEGz-XjM

    Samba de Roda: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCYqcwsUEPE

    Samba-Choro (AKA “Chorinho”): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfIdOfeWK2A

    Samba-Enredo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_slv243dCc

    Samba de Gafieira (the real “Ballroom Samba” from Brazil): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNw_I5NdVNQ

    Bossa Nova: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ScQszabm18

    Samba-Jazz: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKKCmPGchZQ&hd=1&t=9s

    Sambalanço: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivsvyEKaC-8

    Samba-Rock: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKFj5iYvKS0

    Samba Sincopado (AKA “Samba de Telecoteco”): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3nAXARhMLg

    Samba-Rap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqKNqPFrv08

    Not all these musical Samba styles have a respective dance (though almost all of them have a respective dance): Sambalanço and Samba-Rock don’t have such dances, for instance.

    4. The same research led me to the conclusion that Samba emerged mostly (not only) from the fusion of Lundu (dance developed in Brazil by african slaves from Angola and Congo), Semba (an african — not brazilian — dance brought to Brazil by those same african slaves), Maxixe (the “brazilian Tango”) and Polca (austrian dance and musical style brought to Brazil by the portuguese colonizers).

    5. Yet, the same research led me to the conclusion that International Ballroom Samba actually didn’t emerge from brazilian Samba itself, but from Maxixe. I like to use the following Maxixe video to illustrate my statement. Check the clothing, the theatrical elements, the movements, try to imagine it being danced in a faster pace, and then you’ll “see” the similarity:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNHOwNSA1ac&t=1m

    6. Conclusion: since Maxixe (along with Lundu, Semba and Polca, mostly) “gave birth” to brazilian Samba, looks like the (french) creators of Intl. Ballroom Samba mistook Maxixe as “Samba” and thus incorporated the wrong word to the name of that Intl. Ballroom dance. It actually should be named “International Ballroom Maxixe”.
    That name would properly sound much more accordingly with it’s rhythmic roots and thus would definitely find much less resistance or nonacceptance from the brazilians.

    • Yuri – Thanks for your wonderful contribution.

      Particularly
      1) About the origin of the ballroom samba being Maxixe and Lundu. I am not sure of Semba.
      For Maxixe, here is a good clip (which is supposed to reflect historical aspect).

      For Lundu, see below.

      2) About French dance teachers being the first in teaching samba steps.
      Why did they use the term “samba” instead of “maxixe”? Probably people were more familiar with the word “samba”. Do realize that international rumba actually resembles more Cuban bolero, and it should be called “Ballroom Cuban Bolero”, and that “international rumba” is a misnomer.

      But let me remind you that “misnomers” are far too common in life, and sometimes it is a blessing in disguise.
      For example, there is a step called “Drunken Sailor” in swing-jive (ballroom dance). A real sailor who has experience of being drunk will loudly protest that he never moved in such a disruptive way, and insist that “Drunken Sailor” is an outrageous misnomer degrading his occupation. We do understand that sailors are not always drunk. Also drunken sailors do not move in such a way either. However, remember that no other vocations have such an honor of being included in dance steps like “Drunken Sailor”.

      There are some useful articles where the origin of the samba dance is correctly described.
      http://www.dancelovers.com/samba_history.html
      But I feel that the origin of samba dancing is a whole topic by itself, and I would like to learn more about it in the near future.
      Again thank you for your research into the types and origin of the samba (or maxixe) dancing.

      • Hi, Sean! Thanks for your reply and links. I had already watched that video of Lundu, but it was almost 2 years ago. Wow, time is a runner! But I hadn’t watched that one of Maxixe. Nice vid.

        In my 1st post I forgot to mention Samba-Reggae. The song below is a Samba-Reggae performed by Olodum, a musical group from Bahia which called the attention of Michael Jackson (who recorded a clip with them, for the song “They Don’t Care About Us”):

        Samba-Reggae has a slower tempo, if compared to Samba-Enredo (which is the most known Samba style, outside of Brazil, because of brazilian carnival and the samba schools, which play, sing and dance to the rhythm of Samba-Enredo). Samba-Reggae is danced in a different way, if compared to Samba-Enredo or Samba de Gafieira.

        I’m glad to see that dancelovers.com has an article telling the story of Samba in Brazil. It correctly mentions many things, like the 1st recorded samba (“Pelo Telefone”), the Carioca river and the french teachers who took Samba to europe. That’s good, it helps people to better understand Samba and it’s history.

        I just would like to point out some things in that article that sounded a little controversial to me, I mean, not much reliable. There are some mistakes, too. One mistake: Samba is not (only) african in it’s origin, since other influences include Polca and Maxixe. Another mistake: the correct name of the song by Ary Barroso isn’t “Brasil”, but “Aquarela do Brasil” (AKA “Brazil”, in the USA).

        It says that “tamborim, chocalho, reco-reco and cabaca” are the “default” Samba instruments, but actually tamborim, chocalho, reco-reco and cabaça (not cabaca) aren’t more important than the pandeiro and cuíca instruments.

        Controversial stuff about Samba being known as “Maxixe”, prior to 1914: well, differently from Maxixe (which was a well known rhythm), Samba wasn’t a popular dance or a pop musical genre, in that time. So what people called “Maxixe” was actually Maxixe, not what we know as “Samba”. Samba was still being “molded” (or maybe “cut and polished”). It’s expected that Maxixe dancers would give the name “Maxixe” to anything similar to it, including the “Samba” of those times.

        The 1st recorded Samba song — “Pelo Telefone” — was registered in 1916, not 1914. But there is evidence that Samba already existed by the 1890s. In 2011, the brazilian Ministry of Culture, along with the Palmares Foundation (www.cantandoahistoriadosamba.com.br), promoted a seminar about the history of Samba (www.cultura.gov.br/site/2011/11/30/historia-do-samba) and some discussions and studies indicated that Samba may have been molded possibly in the period between the abolishment/abolition of slavery in Brazil (1888) and 1916, since the african batuque (confluence of tribal rhythms brought to Brazil by the african slaves) was beginning to mix with other rhythms, in that time. Yet, the contribution of Semba to the creation of Samba is still unclear. But I believe that Semba did take a significant role in this process. The Semba video below can be used to compare Samba with Semba:

        The well-known Samba-Enredo (played at carnival by the brazilian “schools of Samba”) is only one among the several styles of Samba, thus it isn’t correct to associate the word “Samba” with one specific style (i.e. Samba-Enredo) or with one specific city (i.e. Rio de Janeiro).

        I understand your arguments about the “misnomers”. They’re really common and there isn’t much to do about them. And since dancesports are too dynamic (demand constant evolution, adaptations, modifications et cetera), changing the name won’t be so effective.

        =)

        PS: about “a sober ‘Drunken Sailor'”, that was funny. Good example!
        PPS: yep, I’ve been talking basically about the Samba music. The Samba dance definitely leads to a new topic.

      • 6 Tarles

        Hello S. I see that you are doing an honest effort to legitimize the international version of samba. But i believe you aren not being fair enough with the shocking feeling of Brazilians who see that described as samba.

        The hypothesis that Brazilians are intolerant and overprotective of their culture is a lie. The truth is that between the two versions there so little in common. The samba is present in daily life of most Brazilians. The majority them never will understand from what martian book Europeans derived their own version.

        I also already had my installment of shock. I Discovered later, studying a bit, that the problem is that the int. version of samba developed from Maxixe, in 1920. After that, everything that was created in Int. B. Samba grew regardless of the 80 years of culture of samba in Brazil. 80 years is esquivalent to almost all culture of samba. Therefore, what remained is so different old, that Brazilians themselves cant recognize it. Today, if you look well, the int. Balroom samba seems just another type of European dance with some latinos stereotypes.

        In my opinion, Europeans and North-Americans have every right of keeping their artistic versions, with whatever name they want. However, it is possible that this liberty end up tricking the avarage public, and fooling people who want to learn the culture of Brazil. On the other hand, it is surprising how far the international dance community are of any clue about what the Brazilian samba is. It’s something shocking in a culture globalized.

        I Would like to say that exists a brazilian dance ballroom called samba de gafieira, with elements of various cultures, but with over 50 years of development and independent growth. What distinguishes ‘samba de gafieira” from int. samba is the connection with the personality of music and Brazilian culture, the body reading of capoeira, etc. On the other hand the international samba was developed in connection with european values, satndarts and culture, and thats why looks more like a european dance. For me, is completely legitimate call the art with the name that you want. But will be a samba in name only. Its not samba in historic aspects, but onlu in semantics.

        Now, sometimes, semantics can be harmless. But sometimes, it leads to a misrepresentation of a culture.

  4. Where I typed “Sambalanço and Samba-Rock don’t have such dances” the correct is “Bossa Nova and Samba-Jazz don’t have such dances”. I did the copy-paste command (Ctrl C – Ctrl V) on the wrong lines, haha.

  5. Wow after reading this article I now know You don’t know anything about samba

    • Dear Rich Gomes-Villani, can you please tell me what you know about samba so that I might be educated about samba please ?

  6. 10 Tarles

    Hi, i think youre wrong in many aspects. Youre right saying the original dance is not the unique one. On the other hand, the versions have to have some kind of cultural connection with the original, otherwise, its only a artificial dance. I know that competition ballroom samba do that, but the fact is: they have some faithfull standarts whith salsa, chachacha, etc, but they never came close to represent samba. Thats because they are based on a version of samba from the 20´s! At this time not even brazilians knew what samba is. There are several books that approach this subject. I recommend you this blog: http://escritorioimprovisado.blogspot.com.br/2013/06/international-balroom-samba-x-brazilian.html

    • Tarles,

      Thanks for your valuable insight and the blog article that you pointed out Excellent article !!! I appreciate your input and I am thankful that I am getting educated better.

  7. 12 Tarles

    Since you look someone that likes samba, i recommend you to see the brazilian ballroom samba too! Its something a lot of europeans and north americans do not know. thanks. My favorites are “Leo Fortes e Robertinha”. Look for http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECwShGMZVsg… Greetings.

    • Tarles, Thanks for your suggestions. I need to open my eyes !!!

  8. I searched all over the internet. It is a shame that the only thing explaining the difference between samba and its artificial European version is this blog. You should have more careful when trying to simplify things without research. You are right in only one point. There is a point of contact between the international ballroom samba and Brazilian samba, but it is a contact so superficial, old and obsolete, that it’s outrageous to say that the first is a version of the second. Brazilians do not think they are owners of nothing. They just feel outraged when some lazy teacher tries to reinvent an entire culture through their own visions and experiences in Europe (experiences with nothing like samba). The result is an uncharacterized samba without any cultural root (is there any samba culture in europe outside this lab dances?). It’s a shame the fact that for more than eighty years none of these teachers have bothered to study our culture, the energy of our music, the spirit of the bars of Rio de Janeiro, the personality of the body movements of the carioca hustler, the charm of our ladies, the stories, the mythologies, the intellectual movements around samba, nothing. If they want to establish a European dance style with some archaic link with a Brazilian extinct style from 1920 (Maxixe), they should just take responsibility and authorship of this art form and baptizes it with other name. But everyone knows that this is not done for other reasons: money. The only reason for this to be called samba is not the origin, speed or superficial similarities: it is only a willingness to explore a culture to make money. Ps. We do not own nothing. We would love to see our culture present outside Brazil. But, thanks to charlatans like int. ballroom dancers, a lot of people don’t have any clue.

    • Ricardo,
      Thanks for your contribution. But you are wrong in many respects,

      1. If you read the above comment section, you will find out that my blog is not the only article that explains the Brazillian samba vs (European) International Ballroom samba….

      2. You said I should be more careful writing about something without doing research. Blog article is not a scholarly journal,,,,I can write about things as much as I want….I will keep doing research and find out more if I want,,,,but I wrote the article not to affirm that I am an expert in this area,,,just expressing my opinion,,,,and we all have different opinions

      3. You are calling many dance instructors lazy just because they did not delve into exploring Brazilian samba dance tradition,,,,please stop that.
      Everyone who are in art genre can do what they want to do,,,,the dance is called samba does not mean they have to confirm to certain standard,,,,people will explore and find,,, and try to seek out the origin if they want to,,,,,it’s not just the money that people pursue,,,,so please stop being so right and judging others.

      • 16 sambacarioca

        I have 2 words for you: cultural appropriation…
        if you don’t know what that term means, I suggest you do some research on the subject. Maybe then you will understand why International ballroom samba upsets many Brazilians.

  9. Its really disturbing to see defenders of International ballroom appealing to the argue that “cultures are free to interpretation” and “Brazilians do not own samba”. Actually, ignorance is not something to be proud of, and that`s what international samba dancers are: ignorants about the rich history and tradition of samba. Students and professional artists study and knows what they are doing before they plead to make a new version. Someone dancing this video above know anything about “mangueira”, salgueiro”, the instruments, the era when samba players were persecuted by police? No right? International ballroom wants to plead they are doing something new in samba, but they do not even know what they are talking about. They are only presenting some stereotypes and reducing it all to their own rules. And then if someone calls them out, they act like they are heroes doing something great and artistic. They are not.

    Its not a question of being the owner or not. The fact is that Samba is the expression of Brazilian culture – (with African and European influences). And cultures are the result of a legacy of experience. So, its to that experience that we should recur when we want to understand them. Trying to speak for us, or to define it by your own rules is just a eurocentric expression of blind ignorance.

    The way european ballroom treats latin cultures is a phenomenon that is worth to be described in steps:

    1 step one) lazy curiosity: in a remote era in the past, they were introduced to the rich variety of dance and musical expressions of latin america. They retain only the stereotypes and exotic figures, and never bother to make a deep study about the root of the body and musical expressions.

    2) step two) arrogance: once they have the stereotypes, they start to sell it like a circus artifact. Meanwhile they introduce their own rules and techniques and make the dance something else. The arrogance here is the illusion that they can reduce others cultures to a eurocentric view and that they already know it all, that`s why they think they don`t have anything to learn.

    3) step three) delusion: in the era of internet, its inevitable that people will see that this so called international “rumba”, “samba” and “tango” are very different animals than the originals. So, people will ridicule it and call them out saying, “hey man, this is not samba, rumba, tango”. The delusional step is them saying that these people are “arrogant”! the cycle is closed.

    4) step four) heart broken feeling: The same arrogant european culture that appropriate other cultures without study, without learning, without any effort to understand it, start to feel oppressed if someone try to teach them things.
    There is no solution when a collective delusion is so strong that they think they are the victims, even when they are occupying and colonizing other cultures. What is left to say? Maybe they would suggest us to change the name of our culture right? its hilarious! But also tragic.

    • Dear Latino M.
      Ricardo had written “I see that you are doing an honest effort to legitimize the international version of samba. But i believe you are not being fair enough with the shocking feeling of Brazilians who see that described as samba.”
      1) You are shocked to see that the “international samba” is called samba and has not a whole lot of resemblance to original “Brazilian” samba.
      2) You accuse those group of people (dancers and instructors) that they never bother to make a deep study about the root of the body and musical expressions.
      3) You also accuse those dancers (or teachers) that they sell it like a circus artifact.
      4) Also you say that they introduce their own rules and techniques and make the dance something else.
      5) In the end. you are calling this “International ballroom dance genre” as another illustration of Europeans of occupying and colonizing other cultures.

      Here are some of my points to consider.
      1) Developing a style of dance that looks different from the original dance has been done over and over in the history. Even in Latin culture, the Cuban dance Danzon has preceded Cuban Bolero and Rumba Guaganco, and Danzon is a result of European waltz tradition that has become the national dance of Cuba. When Cubans danced Danzon and loved it, no Europreans said they can’t change the dance, and do different things than the original form. Danzon is not danced much any more, but it is sort of the origin of now popular ballroom rumba and ballroom bolero. According to your logic, whoever is dancing Latin ballroom style of social dancing are doing it wrong because the original rumba wasn’t like that. What I am saying is that many people will dance “samba” style (to be exact, Maxixe style – this was explained a while ago through earlier comments) of dancing in a ballroom social setting, and they don’t have to conform to the original form of “samba” (again Maxixe to be exact).

      2) You said, “they never bother to make a deep study about the root of the body and musical expressions.” Do you think they don’t? I want you to see with your own eyes that there are some other European (surprise !!!) people who are actually studying and learning Maxixe (ancestor of Samba Gafieira). So please stop accusing everyone of the ignorance.

      Perhaps many won’t bother to delve into deeper study of original dance forms. But there are many who will study the root, and try to delve into it. But the fact most people don’t bother to do a deep study doesn’t mean they shouldn’t choose to dance the socially convenient form of dancing that looks fun and interesting to them, and of foreign origin, to original European dance or culture. For example, if you see pizza and decide to eat, then find out you like it, and try to cook it yourself, that’s great !!! One doesn’t have to study deeply into the origin and history of pizza, or afraid that changing the recipe might offend the Italians who had it first.

      3) “Selling like circus artifact”: Not sure what you meant by this. Circus has many elements and some like it, other don’t. If someone likes and buys it, is that such a bad thing?

      4) “They introduce their own rules and techniques and make the dance something else.”
      Ballroom dancing is a partner dancing and they developed original samba into a social dance form that had elements of samba in it. Being a partner dance, it is not as free flowing, and it won’t look as genuine as original samba (to be exact “Maxixe”). Is it such bad thing to call it “samba” because it doesn’t quite resemble the Brazilian samba as is developed in Brazil? There are enough people out there who know what Brazilian samba looks like, and enjoy it; Likewise there are enough people out there who learn and practice, and make ballroom dancing their life long profession in teaching and dancing the European-style of Latin dance. Then they decided to have competitions, then realized they need standards and rules for judging the competition.

      5) “Europeans occupying and colonizing other cultures.”
      Well, Americans accepted pizza and now it is so popular all over U.S. But the pizzas popular in U.S. are not the same kind as those in Italy. Of course Americans had no intention of colonizing Italy when they took pizza and changed things around to fit their taste. Yes, Europeans have colonized other continents not just Latin America, and took advantage of many countries. But the fact that they have developed their own style of partner dancing based on Brazilian samba had nothing to do with intent of colonization effort. Italians do not get mad and tell Americans, “Hey what you are making is not real original pizza. Don’t call it pizza. You really don’t know what real pizza is.” Italians say, “We make real great pizza.” “Come and taste it yourself”

      European style of Latin dancing is quite different from the original form of Latin dances themselves. But they have their own merit. Brazilian people can still be proud that Europeans took samba, and now they have developed a certain stylized partner dancing. Because Brazilian samba is the original dance. But please stop telling people in other cultures or other countries that they can’t change it around. That is called cultural dogmatism and telling others, “we own the samba.”

      • Ok, here it goes your responses.

        1) “Developing a style of dance that looks different from the original dance has been done over and over in the history” (according to you) Of course a culture has changes and multiple versions. Although, to change a culture is a hard job, that demands not only a lot of study, but also experience and immersion in the universe of that culture. So, again, if you fail to present any good cultural, political, tradition, reasons to say that international samba is a modification or a version of original samba, i`m afraid your argument is empty. Actually i have to say that this argument is very disrespectful with all those scholars (anthropologist, sociologists) that spent their lives trying to understand samba culture.

        2) According to you “But the fact most people don’t bother to do a deep study doesn’t mean they shouldn’t choose to dance the socially convenient form of dancing that looks fun and interesting to them, and of foreign origin, to original European dance or culture.” Well, if you are just a amateur social dancer that is ok – you are not to blame. But nothing prevents you to educate yourself and knows what you are doing . Now, if you are a professor and try to teach samba without even knowing a single musical instrument of samba, i would say you are a charlatan. If you admit that this “international samba” is nothing but a gratuitous terminological arbitrariness, so i have to say that you do not have any good argument to counter all the brazilians that say “this is not samba”. (the dance universe became the field of the most ignorant artists because of the blind will of this international community. I`m assure you that this “collective misrepresentation” would not be tolerate in any other field of science and art)

        3)”If someone likes and buys it, is that such a bad thing?” (you said). Of course, for you is not such a big thing. You are insensible to the fact that this is a whole complex and big cultural universe, that is part of the national identity and matureness of brazil. So, for you, why not stereotyping, depriving it of what makes it what it is, and selling in a bug circus? Do you even realize how that argument sounds?

        4) You said: “Is it such bad thing to call it “samba” because it doesn’t quite resemble the Brazilian samba as is developed in Brazil?” That`s a very bold and petulant question. Of course, if does not have any resemblance, any cultural roots, any tradition, any political and social or antropologica reason to be called samba, then it is you that have to answer the question: why is it call samba? Is it such a bad thing to change the name of it to be faithful to what it really is?. To return the question to me is not fair and a cheap resource.

        5) According to you, “the fact that they have developed their own style of partner dancing based on Brazilian samba had nothing to do with intent of colonization effort”. Well, i think that colonization is a good word to describe it when someone select stereotyped versions and elements of your culture, add their own rule,s but maintain the name. It is actually mind boggling that the universe of dance is still prey of this type of eurocentric blindness. I don`t think that you would be OK if someone do the same with your culture. Would you? If someone wants to know about samba, they should listen to samba culture where it is rooted in people`s experience. That`s also true about black culture, feminine culture, etc.

  10. Ok, here it goes your responses.

    1) “Developing a style of dance that looks different from the original dance has been done over and over in the history” (according to you) Of course a culture has changes and multiple versions. Although, to change a culture is a hard job, that demands not only a lot of study, but also experience and immersion in the universe of that culture. So, again, if you fail to present any good cultural, political, tradition, reasons to say that international samba is a modification or a version of original samba, i`m afraid your argument is empty. Actually i have to say that this argument is very disrespectful with all those scholars (anthropologist, sociologists) that spent their lives trying to understand samba culture.

    2) According to you “But the fact most people don’t bother to do a deep study doesn’t mean they shouldn’t choose to dance the socially convenient form of dancing that looks fun and interesting to them, and of foreign origin, to original European dance or culture.” Well, if you are just a amateur social dancer that is ok – you are not to blame. But nothing prevents you to educate yourself and knows what you are doing . Now, if you are a professor and try to teach samba without even knowing a single musical instrument of samba, i would say you are a charlatan. If you admit that this “international samba” is nothing but a gratuitous terminological arbitrariness, so i have to say that you do not have any good argument to counter all the brazilians that say “this is not samba”. (the dance universe became the field of the most ignorant artists because of the blind will of this international community. I`m assure you that this “collective misrepresentation” would not be tolerate in any other field of science and art)

    3)”If someone likes and buys it, is that such a bad thing?” (you said). Of course, for you is not such a big thing. You are insensible to the fact that this is a whole complex and big cultural universe, that is part of the national identity and matureness of brazil. So, for you, why not stereotyping, depriving it of what makes it what it is, and selling in a bug circus? Do you even realize how that argument sounds?

    4) You said: “Is it such bad thing to call it “samba” because it doesn’t quite resemble the Brazilian samba as is developed in Brazil?” That`s a very bold and petulant question. Of course, if does not have any resemblance, any cultural roots, any tradition, any political and social or antropologica reason to be called samba, then it is you that have to answer the question: why is it call samba? Is it such a bad thing to change the name of it to be faithful to what it really is?. To return the question to me is not fair and a cheap resource.

    5) According to you, “the fact that they have developed their own style of partner dancing based on Brazilian samba had nothing to do with intent of colonization effort”. Well, i think that colonization is a good word to describe it when someone select stereotyped versions and elements of your culture, add their own rule,s but maintain the name. It is actually mind boggling that the universe of dance is still prey of this type of eurocentric blindness. I don`t think that you would be OK if someone do the same with your culture. Would you? If someone wants to know about samba, they should listen to samba culture where it is rooted in people`s experience. That`s also true about black culture, feminine culture, etc.

  11. 21 Mateus

    Oh, this is actually a more complex and delicate discussion, dear author! I recommend you to read Marta Savigliano and Juliet Macmaims. Both authors denounces the racist and colonialist aspect of European stereotypes and appropriation of Latin cultures. Here it comes some quotations:

    “The Ballroom versions of Latin dances are western appropriations with only limited similarity to forms practiced in Latin America and they rely extensively on European stereotypes of Latiness for their emotional and aesthetics appeal” (Glamour addiction: inside the American Ballroom Industry, p. 114)

    “Thought the reputed national identities of each of these dances in the new ballroom category are still touted in the publicity materials of every ballroom dancer school and society, the dances that were adopted by the British Ballroom dancers bore little resemblances to their counterparts in their reputed countries of origin even at the moment of their importation” (p. 114)

    “The european appropriation of Latin dances is one of the miriad forms of cultural imperialism in which “passion” is extracted from the third world for sale in the first world.”

    The tension and contrasts observed in the argentinian tango were overdone and misterpreted, and the result was a grotesque mismatching of qualities (Marta Savigliano, Tango and the Political Economy of Passion)

  12. 22 Mateus

    I see that you do not let my comment here. I`m leaving it again. I am afraid you are not exploring all the complexities of the subject, as the fact that this Latin Dancesport variations of Samba, Rumba, etc., are product of a imperialistic machine that tries to simplify, adulterate other cultures for their own profit.

    You talk about “cultural transformation”, but that is not what happened here. There wasn’t a group or community of Brazilians or Cubans that influenced Ballroom Latin, the same way as there is now Cuban and Brazillian communities in USA teaching and spreading the real samba and rumba – promoting real cultural transformations. This was all work of isolated English couples that thought that in some trips to south-america they could translate the spirit, sabor, the technique of afro-american dancers. The result, as you can see is big failure. But that didnt prevent them to teach it anyway. It takes a lot of courage.

    You should read the book “Glamour addiction” inside the ballroom industry” from miss Juliet Macaims. There she shows how the way they judge and teach Latin ballroom is based on the trips of a single ballroom English couple to Latin america in the 50`s. So, not a Brazilian community in Europe, not a Brazilian authority in dance, not a immersion in samba culture, but the rules and interpretations of a single couple were the source that tried to translate the spirit, the creation, the polyrhymic body expression of Latin dances. Of course they adulterate it to make it more palatable and easier to English stiff bodies, but that haven`t kept them from selling the stereotyped simplification of them as the “right” way to dance Latin – which is one of the most outrageous examples of cultural dogmatism i ever seen in the recent times.

    “After five to seven decades of revision at the hands of English, European, and American dancers, the DanceSport versions of latin dances bear little in common with contemporary or historical practices in Latin America” (Juliet Macmains, p. 110).

    “A dance practice is much more than a list of footsteps and rhythm charts. The culture and values of its practitioners are embedded in the postures, gestures and dynamics of the dance. Recontextualized in European ballroom among waltzes and foxtrots, Latin dances were adapted by European bodies to adhere to their own culture’s ideals and values. Postures were straightened, rhythms were simplified, an steps were named and categorized” (p. 114)

    “Tango students in Europe were either unprepared to learn the complexities of the dance, ill-informed about the technique, or uninterested in the movement style practiced in argentina.”(p.113)

    “This process of cultural imperialism and colonization was repeated, only with slight variation, with each new Latin dance that was admitted into the ballroom”. (p.114) 

  13. 23 Bob

    To the blogger of the original article all I can add is that in your orginal comments you did not mention anything about the Brazilian partner dance samba, samba de gafiera its only after other people’s comments so I think this displays your ignorance and shallowness of Samba.


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