In the public squares of Sao Salvador, the beautiful and mystic capital of Bahia, one may inadvertently run into an improvised competition of bliss and grace among women. The natives refer to this competition as Samba de Roda, roughly translated as “Samba in a Circle”, a popular Bahia tradition whose roots are lost in the past. This competition is one of joy, with the girls taking turns flaunting their natural talents.

Another popular dance comes from Belem, at the border of Eastern Amazon; the now world-famous Lambada. Unlike Samba de Roda, which is uniquely Brazilian, the Lambada shares common ground with Caribbean culture; the rhythm bears a striking resemblance to Santo Domingo's merengue. The dance - voluptuous, sensual and downright carnal - is a life-size reflection of one of the strongest aspects of Brazilian culture, one that can be found throughout the giant country: the lust for love.
The “Dança do Tchan” was born recently in the town of Salvador.

Chorinho is a Portuguese word that literally means “Little Cry”. One would not guess that meaning, however, by listening to this lively rhythm that flourished at the turn of the 19th century in urban areas of Brazil, especially Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The cavaquinho, a type of ukulele which is the centrepiece of any typical chorinho band, requires an amazing level of dexterity by the player. The cavaquinho sounds like a high pitched lament, a little cry indeed, even when it is played in cheerful songs such as “Tico Tico No Fuba” or “Urubu Malandro”, both of which were written by Brazil’s most important chorinho composer, Zequinha de Abreu.

The Brazilian State “Rio Grande Do Sul” was colonized by the Europeans and has a rich and varied Culture.
In the great “Pampa” (steppe-like Plain) the Indians lived by hunting and the cowherds threw the “boleadeira” (a peculiar noose) to catch the oxen or used it as an offensive weapon to fight. Today the “boleadeiras” are used in a spectacular dance with rhythmical steps and acrobatic movements performed with rare accurancy.

The most evocative music of this marvelous, but desolately poor, territory moves from the resigned lamentations of the accordion to the explosive reactions of the people who find in songs and dances the strength and joy of life.

Ary Barroso’s Aquarela do Brazil – “Brazilian Colours”  in English – has become a classic that has risen to the level of an “alternative” Brazilian national anthem. The poetic lyrics rhapsodise about the exuberant natural splendours of Brazil.

The Bossa Nova is undisputed as the most precious artistic gift Brazil has given to the world. This musical revolution started in the mid-1950s with a handful of young composers in Rio de Janeiro, and it spread throughout the world to such an extent that virtually all modern pop music– from jazz to heavy metal – shows some level of Bossa Nova influence, with its new concepts of harmonisation, rhythmic division and melody writing. At the centre of it all, one man guided the legion of followers that even today continues growing – Antonio Carlos Jobim, the composer of the revolutionary “Desafinado”, the delightful “Girl from Ipanema”, and dozens of other tunes that worked their way up the jazz and pop charts. Jobim is one of the most appreciated musicians in the world today.
The homage to the Seventies is a medley dedicated to the music that made famous artists such as Jorge Ben and Sergio Mendes, and songs like “Mais Que Nada”, ”Taj Mahal” and “Pais Tropical”

The first wave of Brazilian music to reach the United States come through the body and soul of Carmen Miranda. Born in Portugal, Carmen became an emblem of Brazil and managed to represent a comprehensive culture which encompassed the much wider end larger Hispanic community of Latin America.
Her “chica-chica-boom”, peculiar arm dance, colourful clothes and fruit basket hat are easily recognised in the United States and throughout the world. But behind the outrageous facade was an authentic singer whose interpretations still rank among the best ever.

Before the Portoguese people came to Brazil, it was a jungle full of beautiful nature – wonderful flora and fauna and the only human beings living were the native Indians. These people lived completely free in this natural paradise until Europeans – and the apparently seamless integration of Blacks, native Indians, and white Europeans to create “the Brazilian” is witness to that. But it was not always so. Until the liberation of slaves, proclaimed by Princess Isabel of Portugal in 1888, the pain of Blacks captive in Brazil was unmatched elsewhere in the Americas. Even after gaining their freedom, Afro-Brazilians had to struggle within a society full of discrimination. It was only through the attempted unification of all Blacks that they began to rebuild and recover their culture, brutally interrupted by slavery.

Capoeira is one of the principal elements of Black culture in Brazil, where it arrived with the first boats coming from Angola. Deprived by their masters of carrying any kind of weapons, the slaves kept the tradition of capoeira as a means of gaining and then defending their freedom in the new land. To elude their white masters, Blacks disguised capoeira in a dance to berimbau, pandeiro, ganga and caxixi. The berimbau is one of the many intriguing musical instruments developed by Black culture in Brazil. It consists of a wood arch, bent by a string of metal wire; the resulting tension gives the wire a distinctive sound that can be “tuned” when pressed with a round metal chip by one hand, and struck with a wood stick by the other. The sound is transmitted to an open, hollow coconut shell connected to the string by another piece of wire. A small caxixi – a device which produces a shaker-like sound – completes the set. The player hits the single string with the wood stick, tunes it with the metal chip, shakes the caxixi, and presses the coconut shell back and forth against his thorax, and the resulting sound creates an atmosphere that can become a musical event in itself, or the background to a capoeira dance.

The dance of Maculele, like Capoeira, was born in Bahia from the
traditions brought by African slaves. Also like the Capoeira, the dance
is practical disguise of a type of martial art. The batons used by the dancers can be replaced by swords and other kind of mortal weapons, making it a very dangerous dance. Today, there are several Maculele groups not only in Bahia, but in many other areas of Brazil, including the industrialised
Sao Paulo.

For the capoeirista, the practice is more than a dance and more than a martial art – it is a philosophy, a way of life. The acrobatic capoeira here takes the form of a jogo, an exceedingly dangerous contest in which the opponents attempt to best one another combining traditional moves and individual improvisations. OBA OBA’s capoeristas, recruited from among the best in the country, perform incredible acrobatic feats that are at once mighty and graceful.

One of the most genuine expressions of Brazilians urban music is Partido Alto. Literally the name means “High Party” in reference to the most distinguished members of a school of samba. These are usually from the Ala de Compositores, a group of composers in charge of preparing the songs that will be sung during Carnival. They get together to improvise verses around some theme of the moment. A similar variation of Partido Alto is the Pagode – roughly meaning “mockery” – in which sambistas joke around in a type of jam session with plenty of room for improvisation. As one would expect, in both cases the rhythm is the same that marks the Carnival parades – only a little slower and with a more important role reserved to the acoustic guitar and the cavaquinho. In a typical Partido Alto or Pagode, a chorus is repeated by all members of the group, and the improvised verses are sung alternately by each individual. Sometimes the verses express a duel between two members of the group, the winner being the one who has the last word

The magic of Samba is rooted in many different percussion instruments: the humorous cuica - a drum that has the unique characteristic of being played from the inside, where a piece of wood attached to the skin is rubbed by the skilful hands of the player; the surdo - a huge drum that  produces the bass-beat; the tamborins - high pitched, small drums that are played with a stick; the repinique - another curious drum that is played with one bare hand and one stick; and finally the most important of all, the pandeiro. The pandeiro, known to Americans as the tambourine, is the central instruments of any samba group. Its round shape and leather skin remind its players of a soccer ball, and it is almost inevitable that the two Brazilian passions - soccer and samba - come together in the performance.

Joining the Rhythm Beaters are a group of mulatto women in a joyous display of Samba dancing. The mulatto is perhaps the best expression of a possible “Brazilian race”. Resulting from a mixture of the white Portuguese with the black Africans, the mulatto has more than just skin colour to prove such inheritance. The duality of the African and the European continents is merged into the mulatto, transforming one single body into the conveyor of master and slave, poise and humility, sorrow and happiness, sensuality and innocence, and, most of all, beauty and strength.

Carnival is undoubtedly the greatest popular party in the whole world. It developed out of a Portuguese tradition of pagan parties which marked the four days preceding the grieving sobriety of Lent. In Brazil, Carnival has become a tapestry into which millions of lives are woven during day-to-day preparations. Carnival takes place four days before Lent; it starts on a Friday evening, and through the following Ash Wednesday. During these five nights, there has been an explosion of popularity of this dance, which is now becoming the rage throughout cities in Brazil.