Saturday, April 18, 2009

Samba - Basic Movement

(sorry for the slight delay on this one, the show i am currently doing has erased all memory of days of the week from my mind!)

Samba is one of the two Latin Dances that actually travels around the room. It is based on the Brazilian carnival dances and has a completely different hip action to most of the other Latin Dances.

the counting in Samba is also unlike any of the other rhythms that we have seen so far. In Samba the most common rhythm pattern is counted "1,and, a, 2". This is to indicate that the beats are not being broken up evenly. As the "1, and" section above is often one foot movement (but both a bend and a stretch of the knee) the counting is sometimes also reffered to as "3/4, 1/4, 1" - meaning that you take three quarters of the first beat for the first movement, a quarter for the second, and a full beat for the third.

Remember - in Latin dances there are no Heel leads! If you are stepping forward it will almost always be onto a toe! This is especially important in Samba. For this step, and to get the general movement that Samba requires, imagine you are jumping over a little ditch or stream or something with each of your forward and backwards steps. (Sounds like a silly thing, but if you have to imagine that you need to go up and over to the other side and then up and over again to come back to where you started, you will begin to get the bounce action correct.)

Leaders'/Men's Footwork

Start by going up and over (forward) on your Left foot. (count 1, and)

Bring your Right foot beside your left foot but only with part weight - do not put your heel down! Place just enough weight on the toe that you can lift your Left foot slightly off the ground on count "a" - and then place the Left foot back exactly where it was on count 2.


Reverse this by stepping backwards onto your Right foot. (count 1, and)

And then place your Left foot beside your right, just the toe on the ground, and put just enough weight on it to lift your Right foot off the ground. (count "a") Replace the Right foot where it was on count 2.


Followers'/Lady's Footwork

You are doing the natural opposite of the man. Start by stepping backwards onto your Right foot. (count 1, and)


Place your Left foot beside your right, just the toe on the ground, and put just enough weight on it to lift your Right foot off the ground. (count "a") Replace the Right foot where it was on count 2.

Next, go up and over (forward) on your Left foot. (count 1, and)

Bring your Right foot beside your left foot but only with part weight - do not put your heel down! Place just enough weight on the toe that you can lift your Left foot slightly off the ground on count "a" - and then place the Left foot back exactly where it was on count 2.

Notes for both the Leader and Follower:

- Samba is a tricky dance to do correctly; all the elements (bounce action, hip action, etc) are slightly different from the other latin dances. I would highly suggest trying to take each element on its own and try to perfect your footwork first before adding the bounce action. Get that comfortable before even thinking about your hip movement, and so on.

- Bounce action - this is a term that talks about the bounce necessary for Samba. Generally if you stand with your feet together and bed your knees on the "1" and stretch them on the "and" and continue like that, you will get the feel of the appropriate bounce action. While you do this, make sure not to stick out your bum - but rather to keep your back and hips in line and upright.

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