Samba dancing may sound only as fun, especially for foreigners. But in Brazil this activity is sometimes taken very seriously by amateurs and professional dancers, as we will see below! Samba dancing in Brazil is part of our culture, part of our national identity. Just like Jazz in New Orleans, Tango in Argentina, and Salsa at the Caribbean, samba dancing is taught since the very early stages of life of Brazilians. In a natural form, every woman, (and some men too), learn how to samba dance to some extent, but are evidently not professionals.
Now comes the question, what do traditional samba-schools do in order to pick the very best samba dancers among thousands in the country, to represent the samba-schools during the official carnival parades? Well, most of them conduct challenging and very competitive samba dancing contests in Rio and Sao Paulo to pick the top best samba dancers. At these concurred contests, some of the attributes evaluated by specialized jury and press include the candidates´ grace, beauty, posture, coordination and above all “samba at the feet” or Samba no Pé, to use the original expression in Portuguese.
Below, a video which shows the candidates presenting their samba routines in an official contest.
As you can see below, the competiton has a professional judging panel.
The jury is normally composed of experienced samba dancers, choreographers, former Queen of Drums and important personalities in the Samba community. Number of candidates may vary and range from 20 up to 50, in famous contests. Some of the samba dancers come from very simple backgrounds, and they see this as a great opportunity to project themselves within the carnival community and media in general. Many of them, after winning these contests became authentic Carnival Queens, actresses and models. Tati Minerato, from Gavioes Samba School won a samba contest promoted by a giant TV Broadcasting network.
One of the most important of the samba dancing contest is the Rio de Janeiro Carnival Queen and Princess contest promoted by the city´s official tourism body, called RIOTUR. This contest is always held on October and is extremely concurred. This year, more than 30 candidates took part of the contest and all three winners displayed excellent samba routines. So next time in Rio, contact us and we will take you to some of the most interesting shows in the pre-Carnival period.
Maybe you may learn how to dance samba too and take part of this contest!
To get to know a bit more of this spectacular culture and some of the most dazzling samba goddesses, please refer to our Muses section.
Photo Credit: Divulgação RioTur
Shayene Cesario for example, won for the 2010 Rio de Janeiro Carnaval Queen, later she was the Queen for the Estácio de Sá Samba-School, considered by some the first in Brazil. Some other winners try their luck in pursuing other artistic careers, such as singing, TV hosts and even acting. Many official samba contests may take more than 2 or 3 rounds, with eliminatory phases, and they normally happen at the samba-schools premises or famous samba sites.
Samba video: This time it presents the individual samba dancing routine presented by a candidate, Luciana Abreu.