The Samba music rhythm has been danced in Brazil since its inception in the late 19th century. There is actually a set of dances, rather than a single dance, that define the Samba dancing scene in Brazil; thus, no one dance can be claimed with certainty as the "original" Samba style. Another major stream of the Samba dance besides the Brazilian Samba dancing styles is Ballroom Samba which differs significantly.
Samba no pé
Samba no pé is a solo dance that is most often danced impromptu when samba music is played. The basic movement involves a straight body and a bending of one knee at a time. The feet move very slightly - only a few inches at a time. The rhythm is 2/4, with 3 steps per measure. It can be thought of as a step-ball-change.It can be described calling it and-a-one, and-a-two, then back to one. The basic movement is the same to either side, where one foot moves to the outside lifting up just before the first beat, lifting on the "and-a"and replacing itself on the floor on the one beat (i.e. the right leg moves slightly to the right) and leg is kept straight as a . The other foot moves slightly towards the front, and closer to the first foot. The second leg bends lightly at the knee so that the left side of the hip lowers and the right side appears to move higher. The weight is shifted to this inside foot briefly for the next "and-a", then shifted back to the outside foot on the "two", and the same series of actions is repeated towards the other side.
The dance simply follows the beat of the music and can go from average pace to very fast. Men dance with the whole foot on the ground while women, often wearing heels, dance just on the balls of the foot. Professionals may change the steps slightly, taking 4 steps per measure instead of 3, and often add various arm movements depending on the mood of the music.
Samba de Gafieira
Main article: Samba de Gafieira
Samba de Gafieira is a partner dance considerably different than the International Ballroom Samba. It appeared in the 1940s and it gets its name from the Gafieira - popular urban nightclubs of Rio de Janeiro at that time.
The dance derived from the Maxixe and followed the arrival of the Choro (another samba musical style). It left most of the Maxixe's Polka elements behind but maintained the entwined leg movements of the Argentine Tango, although adopting a more relaxed posture than the latter. Many see this form of Samba as a combination of Waltz and Tango. Several Brazilian dance studios use elements and techniques from these two dances to teach Samba de Gafieira steps and dance routines.
The steps are done on a short-short-long (quick-quick-slow) tempo and the basic step motion goes as follows:
* step - replace - forward (long)
* step - replace - backwards (long)
From its inception to nowadays the Samba de Gafieira has incorporated many acrobatic movements and has evolved to become today's most complex dancing style of Samba in Brazil. This style is present in dance academies worldwide.
There are also regional forms of the dance in Brazil where the essential steps are the same, but because of a change in the accent of the music people will dance similar movements to the slightly changed accents. For instance, in Bahia the girls tend to dance tilting their legs towards the outside instead of keeping their knees close to each other as in Rio de Janeiro.
This is the type of Samba one sees in the Brazilian Carnival parades and in other Samba carnivals over the world. This is also one of the most popular sambas.