Forró from Brazil
Forró Every Thursday at Touché Martini Lounge, 669 College
Maria Bonita & the Band
"Originating from Brazil's arid northeast, Forró: (pronounced foh-ho) is a regional dance and music rooted in African and European traditions. With its soulful mix of accordion, fiddle, guitar, flute and percussion, Forró has become the craze of a nation, sweeping across Brazil's cultural landscape and inspiring a new generation of musicians."
Brazil Dance World
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[From Zé Fuá Facebook
Forró is one genre of Brazilian music that originated in Northeastern Brazil. It emcompasses various dance styles as well as a number of different musical beats. This music genre has gained widespread popularity in all regions of Brazil and recently, in 2012, had a peak of popularity outside of Brazil. Forró is closely associated with Brazilian June Festivals, which celebrate a number of Christian saints. The most celebrated is Saint John's day.
There are three rhythms of forró: xote (a slower-paced rhythm), baião (the original Forró) and arrasta-pé (the fastest of the three), and amongst these, many styles of dancing, which varies from region to region, and may be known by different names according to the location. Forró is danced in pairs, usually very close together, with the man's left hand holding the woman's right hand as in the Waltz, his right arm around her back and her left arm around his neck; Other styles may require to stay partially away, or in a considerable distance, only holding their hands up the shoulders. Influences from salsa and other Caribbean dances has given mobility to forró, with the woman - and occasionally the man - being spun in various ways, although it's not essential to spin at all, and more complex movements may prove impossible to be executed in the usually crowded dancing area of forrós. The most popular styles of forró in Brazil are:
Xote: a basic style, danced close together in a left-left-right-right movement, and has no spinning or variations;
forró-love: similar to xote, but with a strong influence from zouk-love;
universitário: the most popular style outside the Northeast, much like the xote, but with the partners moving forward and backward, much like traditional Bolero. It contains many variations of movements;
miudinho: the man dances with his left side slightly tilted, his left hand on the woman's waist and her both her hands around his neck. Danced in the same place (mobility can be gained through spinning), has a lot of hip movements;
puladinho/manquinho: is danced with the man's right leg still and his left leg marking the beats on the ground, while the woman with her left leg still and her right leg moving (the partners can exchange the leg positions, although it's not common);
merenguinho: the partners move along the sides, with movements similar to Merengue dance;
cavalguinho: much like the puladinho, but with man and woman marking both their legs on the ground in alternate tempos, as if riding a horse.
Xote originally has its roots in the schottische dance.
Baião/pé-de-serra: basically a style of xote, but with the partners tilting to the sides and moving their legs less to follow the faster rhythm;
cacau: comes from Paraíba, in which the partners dance slightly away from each other in very fast leg movements;
amassa-cacau: a variation of cacau from Ceará, it's danced less close and demands a lot of hip movements, with the legs mimicking a person squeezing cacao
valsado: danced close together, consists of moving along the sides, crossing the legs in front of each other;
valsadáo: same as valsado, but danced slightly away from each other. It is, together with universitário, the richest style in terms of movements and variations;
forrófieira: a newer style, mixes the traditional forró with steps and influence from Samba de Gafieira, and it has become quite popular in Rio de Janeiro and some parts of Northeast.
Arrasta-pé: can only be danced to its own style, much like a very fast xote, but alternately marking the beats on the ground with both legs.
Miudinho and puladinho can also be danced to baião music and even to arrasta-pé, but in the latter the leg work is so intense that it's impracticable. Some people also like to include brega/calypso in the forró category, because this dance has suffered much influence of forró throughout the decades, but it's danced to its own rhythm (not to be mistaken with Calypso music).
Forró dancing styles are informally often grouped into two main "families", simply for practical reasons: The older Nordestino (North-eastern) type of Forró and the Universitário (University) Forró that developed later in the South.
Nordestino forró is danced with the couple much closer together, with their legs often inter-twined and a characteristic sideways shuffle movement. Because of the intimacy, there are not as many step variations in this style.
Universitário forró, with its origins in the big southern cities of Brazil, is the more popular style outside of the north-east. Its basic step is forward-backwards - slightly similar to traditional Bolero or Salsa. With more space between the pair, many more moves, steps and turns are possible than in Nordestino styles.
The more common steps include:
Dobradiça - the couple opens to the side;
Caminhada - simple step of the couple to the front or the back;
Comemoração - balancing step, with the man's leg between the ladies';
Giros - a variety of turns, both simple and ones involving both dancers;
Oito - a movement of both dancers around each other, side by side.
Universitário forró supposedly evolved from (and is still very similar to) the baião/pé-de-serra styles, while Nordestino is used to refer to the styles more like the original xote.