Brazil’s National Dance – Forr

It’s commonly believed that Brazil’s national dance is Samba. Not so. There is only one dance rhythm that is danced throughout the entire country and it’s called Forr (fo-HALL). The dance is at least 50 years old and the music is older. In fact, the music predates the name, Forr. The music began very simple, with only three instrumentsthe triangle, accordion, and the zambuma. A zambuma is a single, large drum worn over the shoulder. Both the top side and bottom side are played, with the top having the bass drum sound and the bottom sounds more like a snare. See the video below (which has additional instruments, because it’s Forr Universitrio).

The three-piece forr band music is called Forr P da Serra. Other styles have since emerged and are more regional in nature. Up in the northeast there is a type of Forr Electrnica which I don’t like so much, though it is loved by many. Here in the south we prefer Forr Universitrio, popularized in So Paulo. See the video to the left of a live performance of the most popular forr universitrio band in the country, Falamansa.

There is some backstory as to the origin of the name, Forr, and I’ll save that for another time. What I’d like to write about here is the dance itself. It’s very fun and probably the easiest of all Brazilian partner dances to learn.

The earliest versions of Forr involved dancing very close with a lot of leg play and little or no spinning or complex salon dancing moves. The dance originated in the northeast. As it spread south, it eventually reached Rio de Janeiro. In Rio, all dance forms go through experimentation and eventually evolve into something different. Spin moves from salsa were fused into forr to give it the look it has today, which goes by the name forr universitrio (both a style of the music as well as a style of the dance).

Here you’ll see a video I made of my instructors after class. They are wonderful dancers and this is forr universitrio, though Carlos, like all good dancers, adds his own personal style.

If there is one thing I regret, it’s that I didn’t start to learn to partner dance the moment I arrived. Not only is the dancing fun and healthy, but the community of salon dancing is fantastic. It’s like a big family. There are dance schools all over every city. There are at least 30 here in Florianpolis of various sizes.

Interestingly, forr isn’t taught as a stand-alone rhythm very often. It is included in courses whereby you learn three or four rhythms gradually over the course of a year or more, starting at the basic level and moving up at your pace.

I encourage every foreigner in Brazil to explore the salon dance community. Having done so only in the past year has been a great addition to an already enjoyable life here.

6 thoughts on “Brazil’s National Dance – Forr”

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