Forró – Getting Started with Brazilian Partner Dancing

Forró is the Best Rhythm for Beginner’s of Brazilian Partner Dancing

My Forró Dance InstructorsIf I have one regret after my eight years in Brazil, it’s that I didn’t take up partner dancing, here called Salon Dancing, the moment I arrived. It’s a healthy and fun activity, a great hobby, and a great way to make friends and to possibly meet a romantic interest.

Most people outside of Brazil think that Samba is the most popular salon dance here in Brazil. This isn’t the case. First off, Samba is most often danced alone, in place, and this is called “Samba no pé”. It’s what you see during Carnaval. The partner form of Samba is called “Samba Gafieira”, and it is learned in a dance academy. Dancing Samba Gafierira can be difficult, involving a lot of fancy legwork like you see in Tango. Danced properly, each move, or “pass”, takes a couple of meters of dance floor to execute making it nearly impossible to dance on a crowded dance floor. Danced properly, everyone present must know the proper etiquette of the “rotation” dance floor. This means that they all couples must move around the dance floor in a counter-clockwise direction. This is to avoid slamming into each other. The idea is that you’ll let the people in front of you move out ahead of you in the counter-clockwise direction, thus creating space for you that you know they won’t use coming back in your direction, so you can comfortably execute your pass without risk of collision.

Another thing to note is that a lot of Brazilians think poorly of Samba Gafieira, saying that it’s not real samba, that it’s a creation of the samba salon movement. There is a more simple way of dancing samba in pairs, which really isn’t samba, per se, but two people holding each other and dancing together to the rhythm of the music.

Dance styles that you’ll encounter in Brazilian Salon Dancing and dance academies are Samba, Bolero, Forró, Tango, Zouk, and Salsa. West Coast Swing has recently arrived and each region will also have it’s own salon styles that are only danced locally.

Enter Forró

Forró can only be danced in pair. It is a much simpler dance form than Samba, and much easier to learn. It’s so easy for the women to learn that most can forego any lessons at all, especially those who have experience in other dance forms. A woman who has never danced in pair, and has good rhythm and an affinity to learn, can learn in about four lessons and then will finish her learning on the dance floor at the Forró dance parties.

The dance of Forró today consists of two general parts that the man will alternate between during each song depending on how he wants to lead. The first part is called dancing “juntinho”, or close together. Ideally, this is chest-to-chest and cheek-to-cheek, very close, with legs interlocking, which makes it much easier to lead (and, yes, more enjoyable). The further north you go in Brazil the closer people dance together when dancing forró. People in the south are more reserved and some women prefer about the width of one’s hand’s distance between torso’s. They might do this with men they don’t know or don’t care much to dance with, and then dance closely with a man they know.

The second part consists of the “passes”, or the turns and other moves done once separated, though almost always with one or both hands connected. These moves resemble the turns from Salsa, and were in fact added to Forró by dancers of Salsa as the forms of forró were evolving in Rio de Janeiro 20 years ago. Early forró was only danced “juntinho” and anyone can still dance this way for the entire song, especially when the dance floor is packed. When packed, this is about all you can do.

In addition to “juntinho”, the earlier forms of forró, which still exist, and are sometimes called Pé na Serra, though this is more the name for the original style of music of forró, also included some fun leg play.

The Order of Learning

When learning forró, you will start with the basic step, which is essentially “juntinho”. You then learn the move to transition into dancing separate, with hands connection, which is called, “the mirror”, or “espelho”. A beginner will use the mirror as a crutch while he’s thinking how to enter a sequence of turns. With experience the mirror is entered into so briefly as to almost not be used at all. From the mirror all other moves are entered. These are regular spins of the woman and the man, reverse turns of the woman and man, and quite a bit more.

The best way to know forró is to see it danced…

Three examples of Basic to Intermediate Level Forró

I have always loved these three videos. These guys are so smooth and make forró look so simple and beautiful and romantic. They each dance with the same girl. I am at this level and beyond, yet watching me from the outside will not be anywhere as pleasing as watching these guys.

Four More Advanced Examples

“Advanced” can mean a lot of things. Often, it’s simply to complexity of the moves performed. It can also be the ability to dance well when the music is very fast.

Develop Your Own Style

In the beginning, you’ll be so focused on learning the basics and not “screwing up”, that you have no time to think about style. As you get better there is a natural tendency to copy the style of one or more of the dancers you think highly of. Eventually, your own style will shine through if you let it. This only comes from spending hundreds of hours on the dance floor such that all the moves are natural and you’re no longer thinking, but rather leading with spontaneity effortlessly.

In Closing

I hope this gives you a nice taste of what has become my favorite dance rhythm. You can find it in any Brazilian city and people also dance it at house parties. You can make it as simple or as complex as you’d like. You learn it with private lessons and at the many dance academies that you’ll find in most every Brazilian city. Have fun!

About the Author

Joe Naab, Author of Brazil for LifeJoe Naab is the author of Brazil for Life, a how-to living guide for those who want to start a new life or have a second home in Brazil. He offers a two-hour private phone consultation for those who want more specialized information to suit their specific needs. He also coaches people through the entire expatriation process and can help those interested to obtain Brazil’s Business Investor Permanent Visa.

Add Thousands of Brazilian Portuguese Words to Your Vocabulary Right Now!

Improve Your Brazilian Portuguese With This Great Tip

I will share with you in this article the best tip I know that will literally add more than 1,000 words to your Brazilian Portuguese vocabulary by the time you finish reading.

Dialog ImageRequired Student Level

Even a beginner can benefit from this tip, especially if they refer back to it or simply keep it in mind as their skills improve over time. The most impact from this tip will come to those who know how to conjugate verbs. The most basic conjugations are learned at the basic level, with a few intermediate conjugations added later.

What’s Great about this Tip

What’s great about this tip is that there’s nothing at all to memorize. You can use this on the fly as you are thinking what you want to say in English and can instantly translate it into Portuguese. I’ve been doing this for years and rarely do I get it wrong. It’s simply awesome!

The Fundamental Thing to Know

Here it is—nearly all English words that end in “tion” (eg. translation), will be the same word in Brazilian Portuguese, except that the “tion” will be replaced with “ção” (eg. translação). The “c” with the little fishhook beneath it is called “c cedula”, and has the sound of an “s”. the “ão” in Portuguese, for those who are already speaking it, has the dreaded nasal sound, as if you are pushing the word “own” up into the top of your nose as you say it.

This is the Tip of the Iceberg

This is already a decent tip if all you got was an immediate one-to-one translation for words ending in “tion”. I have no idea how many words in English end in “tion”, it must be in the hundreds, easily. Some examples off the top of my head, – agitation, frustration, dictation, contemplation, observation, rumination, organization, temptation, immigration, experimentation. What’s great, as I wrote above, is that you don’t have to find all these words in a premeditated manner and then memorize them all. The process will arrive in your head instantly at the moment you need it.

The Awesome Multiplication Factor of the Tip – It’s in the Verb!

Take special note that all English words that end in “tion” are actually verbs at their root. Translation is to translate, organization is to organize. Note also that not all English verbs have this form of the verb. There is no “talkation” for the verb, to talk. Thus, there is some limit to it’s application.

The technique that produces the multiplication factor is to reverse engineer this form of the word, ending in “ção”, into the dozen or more verb forms of the word. In doing this you literally add thousands of words to your Brazilian Portuguese vocabulary without any need for memorization.

NOTE: I am noticing now that almost, if not all these words, are Portuguese verbs that end in “ar”. This will make it’s application even simpler.

An Example of the Full Set using the Verb, to Experiment

We begin with the word “experimentation” and then work it through.

  1. experimentation –> experimentação
  2. to experiment (infinitive) –> experimentar
  3. experimenting (gerund) –> experimentando
  4. experimented (past participle) –> experimentado
  5. I experiment –> Eu experimento
  6. You experiment –> Você experimenta
  7. He/she experiments –> Ele/Ela experimenta
  8. We experiment –> Nos experimentamos
  9. You guys experiment –> Vocês experimentam
  10. They experiment –> Eles experimentam
  11. I used to experiment –> Eu experimentava
  12. You used to experiment –> Você experimentava
  13. He/she used to experiment –> Ele/Ela experimentava
  14. We used to experiment –> Nos experimentávamos
  15. You guys used to experiment –> Vocês experimentavam
  16. They used to experiment –> Eles experimentavam
  17. I experimented –> Eu experimentei
  18. You experimented –> Você experimentou
  19. He/she experimented –> Ele/Ela experimentou
  20. We experimented –> Nos experimentámos
  21. You guys experimented –> Vocês experimentaram
  22. They experimented –> Eles experimentaram
  23. I will experiment –> Eu experimentarei
  24. You will experiment –> Você experimentará
  25. He/she will experiment –> Ele/Ela experimentará
  26. We will experiment –> Nos experimentaremos
  27. You guys will experiment –> Vocês experimentarão
  28. They will experiment –> Eles experimentarão

In Closing

This lists adds the three general uses of the verb (infinitive, gerund and past participle), plus verb conjugations for the four most common verb conjugations that you’ll use every day, – present, past continuous, past single occurrence and future indicative. Note that there are at least three other conjugations that are more advanced that can also be derived as above. I left them out for simplicity’s sake.

So there you have it, literally thousands of new Brazilian Portuguese words that you don’t have to memorize added to your vocabulary in the time that it took you to read this short article. Enjoy!

About the Author

Joe Naab, Author of Brazil for LifeJoe Naab is the author of Brazil for Life, a how-to living guide for those who want to start a new life or have a second home in Brazil. He offers a two-hour private phone consultation for those who want more specialized information to suit their specific needs. He also coaches people through the entire expatriation process and can help those interested to obtain Brazil’s Business Investor Permanent Visa.

Brazil’s National Dance – Forró

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 Forró (fo-HALL). The dance is at least 50 years old and the music is older. In fact, the music predates the name, Forró. The music began very simple, with only three instruments—the 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 Forró Universitário).

The three-piece forró band music is called Forró Pé da Serra. Other styles have since emerged and are more regional in nature. Up in the northeast there is a type of Forró Electrónica which I don’t like so much, though it is loved by many. Here in the south we prefer Forró Universitário, popularized in São Paulo. See the video to the left of a live performance of the most popular forró universitário band in the country, Falamansa. Continue reading “Brazil’s National Dance – Forró”