Latin Dance


The Samba is an energetic and lively dance that is currently popular in many parts of the world. Syncopated rhythms, bouncing actions, and rolling hip movements characterize the dance. It may be danced with or without a partner.

History of the Samba

Samba dance holds a rich and cultural history. There are a variety of types of samba music and dancing. While the Ballroom version has grown popular, originally Samba was a solo dance from Latin America.

Samba music started in the 19th century and evolved in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the early 20th century. It became the quintessential music and dance form of Rio de Janiero’s world famous carnival. The lively dance moves and rich and syncopated rhythm have made it a South American favorite.

Musicologists argue about its true origins. Many agree that the word “samba” is derived from the Angolan Kimbundo term “semba” which is the navel thrust in dancing. It is believed the term was associated with the Brazilian state of Bahian when Bahian ex-slaves brought dance to Rio de Janiero. Another argument suggests that it developed on the Paraiba Valley coffee plantations sitting just outside the capital. Some say that Samba was a result of middle class Afro-Brazilian music being elaborated on by professional Rio de Janiero musicians.

Throughout Samba’s development, a variety of influences shaped the flavor the music and dance. Marcha and Maxixe are Samba’s Brazilian predecessors that influenced Samba as well as Cuba’s Habanera and Germany’s polka. Samba music became very popular in song from and some of it’s earliest recordings date back to 1911. Alfredo da Rocha Vianna Jr. was a pioneer of the song form. Sambas of the 1920s and the radio era of the 1930s were slow and romantic and birthed a sub-genre known as “samba-cancao”. Samba cancao emphasized sentimental lyrics and highlighted melody over rhythm. The Brazilian singers and composers put samba cancao on the international radar. During this time of the 1930s, this type of dancing was introduced to the United States through a popular Broadway play and at the New York World’s Fair. By the 1950s samba cancao became overshadowed by samba de batucada, a more percussive and groovy style of samba. By the 1970s samba saw it’s rise as musicians modernized the dynamic samba batacuda style and fused it with modern harmony and instrumentation. Samba began to include elements of rock and jazz, bringing it to the mainstream. Brazilians of all races and social classes began to enjoy the dance, and it became a sense of happiness for the nation.

Samba Dance Today

The solo style of Samba is danced as a celebration dance during street festivals and parties still today. It continues to be danced as alone as it was originally danced, within a group of other dancers. Today, the it is also danced with a partner in Latin Ballroom Samba.

The solo style of samba was given the name “samba no pe.” In the solo style, three steps are taken in every measure of the 2/4 music. Sometimes professional dancers will do four steps in every measure, but it is traditionally done with only three. The dance is often spontaneous and done as the music inspires the dancer. Another style of solo samba dance started in 1992 and is known as Samba Axe. It is not defined by a specific step, but characterized by the musical rhythm. The rhythm can be set to a faster or slower tempo.

Partner samba dances such as the samba de gafieria existed before samba made it’s way into the Ballroom world. Originally samba partner dances were simple and then evolved over time. Today the ballroom style has close connections to the original samba; however, a local from Rio de Janiero Brazil would probably not recognize or call ballroom samba as a samba. The ballroom form is danced in studios worldwide and used to compete in the Latin dance ballroom categories. It often features tricks, turns, and other acrobatics. Similar to solo samba, partner samba is danced on a quick beat with fast footwork. The ballroom samba did not originate in Brazil but uses it’s samba music and influence of dance movement.

More recently, samba and other forms of Latin American dance have found their way into cardio dance fitness classes across America. Popular exercise programs such as Zumba and Hip Brazil incorporate elements of the dance into their workout regimes in an effort to make fitness fun.

Samba music and dance is considered one of the most energetic, lively, and celebratory dances of the world. Travelers enjoy seeing the demonstrations of the different types of Brazilian dance in Brazil. Dance and culture enthusiasts enjoy Samba dance performances at cultural festivals and celebrations held all over the world. Whether danced alone or with a partner, samba music easily moves people to the dance floor or gets them moving in the streets just like a carnival celebration!

Samba Dance Music

  • “Baby Boy” Beyonce
  • “Hips Don’t Lie” Shakira
  • “Ay Mujer” Jose Luis Rodriguez
  • “Pon De Replay” Rihanna
  • “Vive La Vida” Gusanito
  • “Hey Baby” No Doubt
  • “Vive El Verano “Paulina Rubio
  • “La Isla Bonita” Madonna
  • “Sacando Fuego” Amador
  • “Maria” Latin Jam 1
  • “Ven Devorame Otra Vez” Azucar Moreno
  • “Caliente” Latin Jam 1
  • “Say Hey” Michael Franti and Spearhead
  • “If Today Was Your Last Day” Nickelback
  • “Move Baby Move” Sartorello
  • “Jazz Machine” Black Machine
  • “Crayons” Donna Summer feat. Ziggy Marley
  • “Cult of Snap” Hi Power
  • “Que el Ritmo No Pare” Patricia Manterola
  • “Whenever, Wherever” Shakira
  • “Kiss Kiss” Stella Soleil
  • “Jaleo” Ricky Martin
  • “Asereje” Ruiz
  • “Give Me A Chance” Candice Rans
  • “Find Your Love” Drake
  • “Dirty Little Secret” The All-American Rejects
  • “Alejandro” Lady Gaga
  • “S.O.S.” Rihanna
  • “Carry Out” Timbaland and Justin Timberlake
  • “Love Game” Lady Gaga
  • “Temptation” Arash feat. Rebecca
  • “Hips Don’t Lie” Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean
  • “Bailamos” Enrique Iglesias
  • “Hey Mama” Black Eyed Peas
  • “Mas Que Nada” Black Eyed Peas feat Sergio Mendes
  • “Ain’t It Funny” Jennifer Lopez
  • “Cha Cha” Chelo
  • “Rhythm Devine” Enrique Iglesias
  • “La Bomba” Ricky Martin
  • “Spice Up Your Life” Spice Girls
  • “Que Locura” Miguel Saez
  • “Vive El Verano” Paulina Rubio