Monday, April 6, 2009

Samba Rhythm's Gonna Get You Dancing

The Latin American Samba or known simply as the Samba has its origins in Brazil. It is however not to be confused with the Brazilian Samba which is the dance of celebration and joy at the Carnival held in Brazil each February. This kind of Samba is very diffferent from the more stylized international version which we are more accustomed to watching and dancing. The Brazilian Samba is danced solo whereas the international (Ballroom) Samba is a dance for couples. It is danced to a "Quick, Quick, Slow &" rhythm using fast three-step weight changes. There is little or no bounce action and the speed or tempo of the music can reach up to 58 bars per minute!

The Samba is a bubbly dance characterized by the use of bounce action and pelvic action. The time signature of the dance is generally 2/4, which means that the rhythm has two beats to one bar of music. There is a musical accent on the first beat of each bar. The tempo of the music can vary from 48-52 bars per minute. Most Samba music is written in two bar phrases. It is desirable and more enjoyable for each figure or group of movements to commence at the beginning of a musical phrase. This is achieved by choosing the correct Precede or Follow to suit the phrasing. The Samba is a dance of contrasting rhythms, and the following rhythms are generally used.

Counts (Alternative method of counting) --- Beat Values

1. 2 (S S) --- 1. 1

1 a 2 (S a S) --- 3/4. 1/4. 1

1 a 2 a 1 a 2 (S a S a S a S) --- 3/4. 1/4. 3/4. 1/4. 3/4. 1/4. 1

1. 2. 3. (No alternative) --- 3/4. 1/2. 3/4

SQQ (1. 2 and) --- 1. 1/2. 1/2

SQQQQQQ (1. 2 and 1 and 2 and) --- 1. 1/2. 1/2. 1/2. 1/2. 1/2. 1/2

QQS (1 and 2) --- 1/2. 1/2. 1

SSQQS (1. 2. 1 and 2) --- 1. 1. 1/2. 1/2. 1

The normal bounce action which is so characteristic of the Samba can briefly be described as a slight straightening of the knees on the first 1/2 of the beat and a slight flexing on the second 1/2 of the beat. There are two beats to a bar in Samba music and two complete bounce actions to the bar. The Samba bounce action should be a gentle rhythmic action felt through the knees, ankles and instep of the leg supporting most of the weight but you must be careful not to exaggerate it. Bounce is not used where there is a "Quick" in the timing of the figure. Bounce action is used on all figures having the count of "1 a 2" ( 3 steps to a bar).

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