Term Paper: Afro Brazilian Dance

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Afro-Brazilian Dance

Brazilian music is typified by its intense and exuberant mixing of styles, from the European/African/Native American blends that turned into the original sambas of the early Twentieth Century, to electronica and hip-hop. Understanding of the dance culture that comes from Brazil is necessary to someone who is in the criminal justice field, as a knowledge of the history is an understanding of the person. It is said that Brazil is one of the most musical places in the world. The prominence of music in Brazilian dances and rhythms, has everything from tribal rituals and country traditions to Bossa Nova. To understand a "Braziliano," one needs to understand the music and the derivation of the rhythms and dances (Lima-Moore 1). Not only that, but one of the dances is really a martial art form. The Capoiera dance is a cover for practicing a means of fighting one's opponent. The dancers are almost all male and dancing is their way of training.

Some of the other dances the Brazilians perform are harmless and extremely entertaining: Lambada, Samba with live Batucada, Axe, Pagode, Salsa, Lambada, Carnival drums (Batucada) and the 'Samba de Roda.' Brazilian Carnival dances are becoming popular throughout the U.S. In colorful feathers, the dancers dance fast to the infectious music and are dressed provocatively. The drum rhythms are so contagious it is impossible not to dance. The 'Samba de Roda' is folkloric. Watching the 'Capoeira' male dancers, one realizes they are so skillful that one feels hypnotized.

Samba

The birthplace and home of the modern urban samba is Rio de Janeiro, though samba-type music and dance developed all over Brazil. Samba is the most widely played Brazilian music and is the best known. Samba is played at festive gatherings, for individual, couple and round dancing of Afro-Brazilian character. The word samba probably comes from the "semba," navel thrust or touching of belly buttons while dancing, as it is called in the Kimbundu language of present-day Angola. Millions of blacks were forcibly taken to the New World in colonial times from Angola, and took their dances with them (Lima-Moore 2).

Capoeira

Capoeira is African in its origin and Brazilian in its evolution. A style of martial arts, it was developed by Brazilian slaves in the 1700s. It was born out of the struggle for freedom in colonial Brazil. The African slaves who were originally brought to the Brazilian State of Bahia developed this dance as a cleverly disguised self-defense. It evolved from a fighting style that originated in Angola. In the early days there were constant fights between the black slaves, and when the owner caught them at it, both sides were punished. The slaves considered this unfair and developed a smoke screen of music and song to cover up actual fighting. Over the years this was refined into a highly athletic sport in which two contestants try to deliver blows using only their legs, feet, heels, and heads - hands are not allowed. Capoeira combines dance, self-defense, acrobatics and music (Lima-Moore 4).

The combatants move in a series of swift cartwheels and whirling handstands and sometimes headstands on the floor. The musical ensembles that accompany Capoeira include the berimbau, a bow-shaped piece of wood with a metal wire running from one end to the other. A painted gourd which acts like a sounding box is attached at the bottom of the berimbau. The player shakes the bow. While the seeds in the gourd rattle he strikes… [END OF PREVIEW]

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