This spicy and flavorful dance is also known as the “Forbidden Dance.” This is probably due to the close nature of the dance and the fact is associate with short-skirts and shirtless guys…it was the style of that time.

And, this time is the 1980s. The Lambada originated in Brazil. The modern day Lambada is a result of many different dances in Brazil. For instance, the sensual dance and the spins come from Carimbo, a dance in Northern part of Brazil during Portugal’s occupation. The name Lambada, meaning “strong slap” in Portuguese, came later as the dance and music became more distinctive.

However, it wasn’t until the 1976 when the father of Lambada, Aurino Quirino Gonçalves, launched Lambada (Sambão), the first song to be labeled Lambada. As the Lambada spread along the Bahia Coast, the 2 step Carimbo dance became a four beat danced as it mixed with the Forro, an old style of Brazilian dance.

Then, in the 80s, Lambada reached international recognition with the French group Kaoma’s song “Lambada“. A number of films have also featured the Lambada, such as “Lambada” and “The Forbidden Dance.” But, the Lambada never seemed to reach the recognition of some other Latin American dances. I’m not sure why. It looks like so much fun!

To see the Lambada lesson that is given in a more professional, fancy manner, click here.

To see the “just-for-fun” Lambada lesson, click here.

Enjoy and have fun!

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Intensive and a workout, the Capoeira can be considered a dance or martial arts, depending on who you talk to.  I believe its an art form, rhythmic, and, thus, a dance. Therefore, I have added it in my blog post for today.

The Capoeira dates back to the colonial period in Brazil. People brought from Angola, Congo, and Mozambique to Brazil by the slave trade created a martial art they needed to survive. They hid their martial art and traditions ina dance form, Capoeira. They used this dance to resist repression  and survival of their culture.

In 1892, Capoeira was associated with crime and was outlawed. Those caught practicing the dance were punished by cutting the tendons of their back feet. Capoeira’s banishment wasn’t lifted until 1918.

In 1937, Mestre Bimba recieved permission from President Getulio Varga to start the first Capoeira school, and the Capoeira became recognized as a national sport.

Capoeira moves are definitely “don’t-try-at-home” moves. It involves acrobatics, other people, and potential brutal kicking and punching motions. But, it’s a great workout! And, with the right training in a dance class setting, anyone can do the Capoeira…believe it or not.

To see the dance performed, check out this video!

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La Cueca

La Cueca is the national dance and folklore of Chile. This dance mimics the courtship of a chicken and rooster. The handkerchiefs you can see to the right symbolize feathers.

Danced for years, la Cueca is influence by both African and indigenous cultures. As you can see, the outfits are thus traditional Chilean outfits. Declared the official dance of Chile in September 1979, you can see la Cueca danced on Chile’s Independence Day.

La Cueca is danced in a circle. The woman has her half of the circle and the man has his. They then dance around each other in half circles or making a full circle. The hankerchiefs are twirled above the head at various moments throughout the dance.

To see the Chilean national champions of 2008 dance La Cueca, check out this video.

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Another extremely passionate and emotional Spanish dance is the Flamenco.

Originating in the 16th century, the dance has been an outlet for the poor and oppressed. This may be a result of the flamenco’s tumultuous begins.

Thrown together by their expulsion in the 1492 at the start of the Reconquista and their location, the Gypsys, the Moors (or Arabs), the Jews, and the indigenous Andalusians created this fusion of influence that led to the flamenco in Anadulcia (Southern portion of Spain).

In the past, the flamenco was accompanied by bandurria, violin and tambourine. Later on, the guitar became the more predominate instrument.

Even though flamenco started in the late 15th century and a cafe cantante (a place flamenco was performed) also opened during this time, the flamenco and the cafe cantantes did not become popular until the second half of the 19th century. That is when the flamenco began to spread.

Today, flamenco has spread from the Andalusian region to all over Spain. It is one of Spain’s greatest attractions and has become a symbol of the nation.

A mixture of clapping, singing, and the guitar, the dancer has a number aspects to keep in mind. They must keep the rhythm, clap, move their arms, tap their feet, and let the emotion of the piece take over their rigid movements. The number of aspects of this dance makes it important to visit a dance class to learn. However, if you want to give it a try on your own, here are some introduction how-to videos:




More video found by this Senora can be found on youtube.

Now, last but certainly not least, to see some professionals at work and very well done flamenco, click here!

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Paso Doble

Elegant and filled with fierce emotion, the Paso Doble resembles the foot work and movements of Bull fighting, another Spanish tradition. In this case, the man is the matador and the woman is the red handkerchief waved in front of the bull.

Stemming from the ritual of the matador’s entry into the bullfighting ring in the 18th century, the Paso Dobe, meaning two step, originated in Spain. The two-step name resembles the 1-2 marching step within the dance. In Southern France, these bullfighting steps were interpreted into dance and music aspects in the early 1900s. Around 1920, the bullfighting phenomenon was coregraphed into a dance. During that time, it was limited to the upperclasses and popular mostly in Paris.

Today, the Paso Doble appears to be reserved only for professional dancers and dance competitions.

As this is a highly choreographed dance, I do not have any basic step or how-to video to offer. To learn the Paso Doble, you may want to check out dance classes in your local area. However, what I do have is some neat videos of two professional dance couples. Maybe, after watching these guys, you can decide if you would like to look up those classes I was talking about.

To see the first very technical couple, click here.

To see the next couple, my favorite, who particularly master the emotion of the dance, click here!

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Fun, fast, and acrobatic, the Quebradita is another impressive dance from Mexico.

The origins of Quebradita stem came in the 1960s with a band called El Recodo. This band mixed cumbia with banda instruments. However, this musical movement did not expand until the late 80’s and early 90’s. Between 1990 and 2000, Quebradita gained the most popularity.

Today, although less popular than norteno and duranguense, the Quebradita is well-known in both the Mexico and certain areas of the U.S.

Quebradita, literally meaning “little break,” exemplifies the breaking element in the dance. Hold onto one another, the couple seem to break at the knees and waist in their movements. Also, in the acrobatics of the dance, the woman being thrown around seems to break around the man’s body while sliding down and around.

To see this very cool dance danced by professionals, click here!

If you want to see if you can pick up the Quebradita without all the flips, click here.

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Duranguense/ Norteno

From the ranches and country of Mexico, this post brings you the wonders of Norteno and Duranguense dancing.

The first dance mentioned, Norteno, originated in northern New Spain, or Northern Mexico. In the late 19th century, Czech, Bohemian, and German immigrants influenced music [and dance] bringing the la redova, la varsoviana, and the polka. Local bands started using elements from this music, like the accordian, and Mexican ranchera (ranch) music. Modern Norteno was born.

Nortenos are now popular in both Mexico and the U.S. as well as urban and rural areas. The music is characterized by the accordian and baja sexto instruments.

The second dance mentioned, Duranguense, refers to the Northwestern state of Durango in Mexico, the state in which it originated. Duranguense music consists of tambora, saxaphone, and trumbone. Differing from the previous norteno genre, the tempo is faster and focuses on the bass drum with heavy percussion of varying drum snare rolls.

Popularity for Duranguense came in the 2000 with the rise of Montez de Durango, a famous Duranguense band that topped Latin Music Charts. This music is popular now in the U.S. as well, since immigrants from Durango brought it to the U.S. and started a Duranguense group in Chicago.

To dance Norteno, you just step left, right to the downbeat and push of the ground with the stepping foot. The follow follows the lead who is directing, usually, her around the floor. To see Norteno, click here.

Duranguense music is very similar. However, dancing duranguense regures quick steps and a more exaggerated push off of the ground. The dance is also enhanced by a little more side-to-side hip action during each foot’s push off of the ground. Here is some further direction. And, to check out some Duranguense, click here.

Of these two dances, my personal favorite is Duranguense. I love the high energy level  and the fast pace. One of my favorite bands is called los Alacrances. However, that is not to say that I do not also greatly enjoy Norteno. My favority Norteno song is “Hasta el Cima del Cielo” by Solido. Hope this post and these songs spark your interest as well.

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Ballet Folklorico from Mexico

Fully of energy and bright pretty dresses, Ballet Folklorico is Mexican folklore music and dance. These dances consists of stomping with shoes that have nails in the bottom of the soles, women making arms movements that elegantly swing brighty-colored dress, and men holding their hands behind their backs or machetes that they clank together.

Each region having their own costume and dance, Ballet Folklorico represents the traditional regional dances that have resulted from Spanish and indigenous influences in Mexico. These include the regions of Nuevo Leon, Baja California, Tamulipas, and Veracruz.

In 1952, Amalia Hernandez Navarro, coreographer, founded Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, a dance company that worked to preserve and perform these mexican art forms. Starting with 10 women, the group grew to some 75 dancers ten years later. Traveling all over the world, ballet folklorico became recognized as a national symbol of Mexico and practiced in other countries, like the U.S. An example of this is St. Edward’s Ballet Folklorico group in Austin, Texas. The most well-known dances are from Jalisco, one called the Mexican Hat Dance or el Jarabe Tapatio.

Today, you can see the wonders of Mexican Ballet Folklorico all over. For some sweet videos of ballet folklorico groups to get a better understanding of Ballet Folklorico, click the following links.

Veracruz – La bruja

Jalisco – La negra

Tamaulipas – Querreque

Nuevo Leon – Pavido Navido

And there is many many more, too many for me to put in this blog. To see all the different versions of these dance and different regions, just go to youtube ,type in “Ballet Folklorico,” and explore!

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Well, its hard to explain just exactly the cumbia is in specific terms. The reality is cumbia changes drastically depending on where you are in the latin world. Each area, country, and even regions of the same country has its own variations. But, I tell you what I know below.

The cumbia originated in Colombia around the 1820s. During this time, Colombia was struggling for its independence. Sung and danced in the streets, the cumbia was an expression of national resistance. Originally, cumbia music consisted of tambor drums and gaita flutes. However, in the 1920s, Colombian bands added in horns, brass, and other instruments. The bands became so big that they couldn’t afford to send all their members abroad to perform in New York City and used local Puerto Rican groups to perform.

Today, the cumbia is extremely popular in South America, Central America, and Mexico; however, the cumbia never gained too much popularity in the United States outside those familiar with many forms latin american dance and music.

So here it is, the many variations of cumbia. Well, the ones that I know at least…I’m sure there’s more!

One version of cumbia resembles the salsa. But, instead of going back and forth, the steping leg goes behind the stationary leg, creating a side to side twist motion. The count remains 1-2-3 pause 1-2-3 pause. This is probably the most common cumbia danced in clubs, etc. Click here to see. Here is the basic.

Another version of the cumbia, danced in many Mexican cumbias, is step to the left with your left leg, drag your right leg to your left leg, step to the left again, drag your right leg to meet your left leg, and swing your hips to the left. Then, repeat using opposite legs on the right side. Each movement to the side is done on 1 beat and then the swinging of the hips takes up its own 1 beat. So, essentially, the beat is 1-2-3 and 1-2-3. To see a clip, click here.

Yet, another version, which is probably the easiest, is step to the left with your left foot on 1, bring your right leg to your left, and switch your weight to your left to repeat using opposite legs for the opposite side. The steps are on 1-2 and 1-2. Click here.

The traditional cumbia from Colombia, I cannot explain. This technique is more technical and is best taught by a dance teacher. But, here is a cool video so that you can see. To see a couple, click here and, to see a whole group with some modern cumbia songs, click here.

While this an idea of the various versions of the cumbia, there are more! Type in “cumbia dancers” on and you’ll find all sorts of fun stuff!

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The samba is an extremely energetic and full of movement. I’ve always been fascinated, and a little shocked by some of the scanty outfits, by how quickly samba dancers move their feet and hips. While listening to Brazilian drummers at San Telmo’s weekly fair, a friendly stander-bys would try to teach me. Trust me! It’s a workout!

The samba is an old Brazilian dance of African origin that has a number of variations. For almost 100 years, the samba has been danced on the street for the pre-Lenten celebration. Up until 1914, the samba was known as the “Maxixe.” Using the musical instruments called tamborim, chocalho, reco-reco, and cabaca, the samba came from daily like if Rio. One of the most famous sambas is “Pelo Telefone” by Donga. Ballroom samba, also known as Carioca Samba, came from the rural “Rocking Samba.”

The rise in popularity of the Samba, especially in France, began to take notice in the 1920s. In 1933, the Samba was danced by Fred Astaire and Dolores Del Rio in “Flying Down to Rio. A few years later, Carmen Miranda danced the samba in “That Night in Rio.” When the samba was presented at the Brazilian Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York in 1939, interest in the samba was stimulated. Today, many versions of the samba are very popular in both Rio, around the world, and in professional dance competitions.

To fully display the personality of the samba, the dancer must achieve a happy and flirtatious character. While there are many variations of the dance, the main characteristic is the quick movement of the steps on a quarter of a beat. Once you get your feet moving (a challenge in itself), then you have get the hips swinging fast in accordance with your steps. This is a trick I am still trying to master.

For a beginners guide to learn the samba, click here.

To see a performance with both carnival dancers and profession competition dancers, click here.

To witness the great variety of the samba as well as more professional dancers in performance and competition, click here and here.

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