The samba comes from Brazil and is a rhythmical and lively dance. The ballroom samba is different from the original samba that was danced but also has many similarities. The dance began in the early 20th century and is similar to a dance called the Maxixe. Many versions of the samba are danced at the carnival in Rio. It was originally a solo dance but is a partnered dance for the ballroom samba.

The samba has been influenced by many other dance forms but the roots belong to the African rhythms played on drums and by clapping your hands.

The dance was introduced to audiences around the world when Dolores Del Rio and Fred Astaire danced a Carioca in the film Flying Down to Rio in 1933. A few years later Carmen Miranda danced a samba in the film That Night in Rio. General interest was taken in the dance at the 1939’s World Fair held in New York where it was played in the Brazil Pavilion.

Ballroom samba

This dance is very different from the original Brazilian Samba but has taken the name. It is a dance done with a partner and it has a bouncing and dropping action. This action comes from the bending and straightening of knees. This does create a bobbing movement like that seen in the Polka. There is a specific hip movement seen in the samba that is different to the Rumba and the Cha Cha.

The dance has a very specific rhythm and is a happy and exuberant dance. Many moves in the modern samba involve a pelvic tilt to give the dance its current style. Another feature is the fast steps that are done every quarter of a beat and the distinctive rocking movement and swaying the dancers.

The dance is very fast and involves some complicated movements and is danced at around 100 beats each minute.

Dance moves

The samba has some distinct dance moves in a quick, quick, slow sequence that include:

  • Kick change
  • Bota fogos
  • Samba strut
  • Volta
  • Samba side steps