Dances from Brazil

by Estifanos (age 6), of California, U.S.A.

I wanted to see what kinds of other dances people did in Brazil, after seeing the Brazilian dancers of the Fogo Na Roupa Performing Company at the Ethnic Dance Festival in San Francisco. So, Mom and I Googled “Brazilian dance.” We found a list of “10 Traditional Brazilian Dances You Should Know About.” Then, we looked for videos of those Brazilian dances on Youtube.

My favorite was of about five men that were doing Capoeira dancing. It was acrobatic, and very very fast. They spun on their heads! (crazy guys!!!) They also would kick their feet up and twirl around, just inches from each other, and did not bump into each other!

Here is a link to the Capoeira dance we watched:

Another traditional Brazilian dance that I liked was called Bumba Meu Boi. I liked it because it was funny and dramatic. The dance showed people dressed up as animals in a forest. There was a bull, some monkeys, and about 20 Amazonian birds. And also, at the end, there was a man holding a little toy bull, just like the bull at the beginning. There has to be a story to this dance. I am going to ask my pen-pal about what the story is.

Here is a link to the video of the Bumba Meu Boi dance we watched:

The last Brazilian dance I liked is called Forró. It is so fast, that I can’t even describe it. It is danced by a boy and a girl or a man and a woman. They do lots of fast hand work, and turns and spins. Once the woman even slid underneath the man’s legs, and jumped right back up and kept dancing. I really want to learn it. It is just amazing!

Here is a link to the video of Forró dancing we watched:


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2 Responses to Dances from Brazil

  1. The Jackfruit Druid says:

    Dear Estifanos,

    Let me first say you have great taste in music and dance ;P All of those artistic expressions are from the Northeast region of Brazil, where our family lives. It has a distinct and beautiful culture!

    Capoeira is a mix of music, dance and a very earthy/telluric martial art, created by the descendants of african nations who where enslaved and brought here. There are different styles, the one you saw on the video is called Capoeira Regional, and can be very flashy and acrobatic; the one I practice here is called Capoeira Angola. Here’s Mestre Cabello, my teacher (the one with a bandana and long hair):

    You’ll notice the music is slower, the movements more paced and in direct relation with one another, more like play. The clothing is different, it comes from it’s history, when the players dressed in everyday clothing and shoes, they were hard workers and mostly poor, but never lost their dignity: a good Capoeira player doesn’t get dirty or falls on the ground, hence the white pants. Mestre Cabello travels often to teach in the US, maybe you’ll see him someday!

    Bumba Meu Boi is a mix of music, dance and a theatrical play that tells the story of a bull. It’s also a cultural expression with it’s roots on the enslaved peoples in Brazil (just like Capoeira, it was once forbidden and criminalized by the state). In its origins it was a street/popular manifestation, always around our winter solstice in June on the day of the catholic figure Saint John, a major time of celebration around bonfires. The video you saw is only a small presentation of it, and it can be told differently depending on the specific region, but here’s the gist of it:

    Once there was a slave called Pai Francisco (Father Francis), who had a pregnant wife called Mãe Catarina (Mother Catherine). She was craving to eat a bull’s tongue, and to satisfy her Pai Francisco kills his master’s bull. The enraged master then demands the bull to be returned to life. Pai Francisco calls on medicine workers and healers from a nation of our indigenous peoples (the ones with all the feathers on the play) to resurrect the animal, that eventually roars back to life, and a great party is arranged to celebrate the miracle.

    Forró is a mix of music and dance with several different styles, and the same roots and history of the other two dances. The one you saw is actually more of a ballroom dance we call Samba de Gafieira than Forró! I’ll introduce you to Luiz Gonzaga, a revered cultural icon, many of his musics are considered classics and tradition here in the northeast:

    The traditional trio that plays Forró is composed of the Accordion, the Zabumba (percussion instrument) and the Triangle (also a percussion instrument, that sets the rhythm):

    The traditional dance is a lot more simple, a kind of “two steps to the right, two steps to the left”, the partners close and usually in a room packed full of people, so you have to watch everybody’s feet ;P

    Let me know if you want to know more!

    All the best from your pen pal,

    The Jackfruit Druid

    • admin says:

      Thank you for writing, Atilio!

      The slow Capoeira was okay, but I liked the fast style better because it was more energetic and I like energetic things.

      I thought the story about the bull was a bit disgusting: eating the tongue of a bull? Yuck! But the dance was quite joyful, and the costumes were so pretty!

      The Forró music made me feel like dancing. 🙂

      Your penpal,

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