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Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum—


The Samba originated in Brazil. It was and is danced as a festival dance during the street festivals and celebrations. It was first introduced into the United States in a Broadway play called "Street Carnival" in the late twenties. The festive style and mood of the dance has kept it alive and popular to this day. 

Samba is a Latin rhythm with a medium fast tempo.  The basic beat is 1a, 2, 3a, 4.  The music and feeling of Samba naturally leads to a “bouncing” action while dancing, but don’t overdo it.  Think of it more like the gentle bobbing of waves on a summer lake, instead of driving over cobblestones or holding a jackhammer. 

Use a Latin hold/frame while dancing Samba. That means a slight lean forward from the lower body towards partner, not away as in waltz or foxtrot.  It also means that lead hands are held in closer to the body, and the man’s trail hand may be on top of the lady’s trail arm instead of under it. 

Note that even though most Samba figures can be done in half a measure (i.e. two beats, such as the 1a2 or the 3a4), Roundalab defines Samba figures using four beats per measure and thus Samba figures are mostly done in pairs or quadruples. 

BASIC SAMBA FORWARD AND BACK — Think “down and down, down and down." 

This is a just like doing a triple step balance forward and back (in Two Step rhythm) except with Samba styling.  When stepping forward relax the knee, which lowers the body down, close on the second step with a quick rise, and then lower back down when taking the third step. Rise back to normal height to begin doing the Back Basic.  The Back Basic is just like the Forward Basic except for starting with a back step. 

SAMBA WALKS — Step and move back again. 

These are usually done in open position not touching partner.  Hands are thus free for any styling you’d like. 

Start a Samba Walk with a forward step putting all your weight onto that foot and lower. Then reach back with the other foot pointing the toe side and back and just barely put weight on it. This should actually “pull” your body off the foot you stepped forward with, which is what it is supposed to do.  Simply allow this to happen and take weight wherever you are pulled back to, thus completing the third step of the Samba walk. 

SAMBA LEFT TURNS — Like doing half of a left turning box with a little sway and bounce. 

The samba left turns are defined by Roundalab as a one measure figure in which you do two turns using the timing,1a2, 3a4;  Each of the turns are a one quarter turn so you are in effect doing half a double-time foxtrot/waltz left turning box. 

Of course with Samba you should put a little “bounce” in your step by lowering on count one, rising on the “a”, and then lowering again.  This is mostly done with bending and unbending the knees. You should also sway left when doing the first turn (man going forward) and sway right on the second turn (man going back). 

TRAVELING VOLTA — Like a syncopated Crab Walk 7. 

Normally done in butterfly position; simply do the following seven steps in Samba timing all in the same direction:  XIF/Side, XIF/Side, XIF/Side, XIF; (XIF means cross in front).  The XIF steps should be short and the Side steps wider. 

Tim Eum originally prepared these Tips for
Calls 'n' Cues, (WASCA);
reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council
(DRDC) Newsletter, November 2009



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