sábado, 27 de setembro de 2014

"Samba de Gafieira" explained to International Ballroom Dancers

Imagine Rio de Janeiro in the late nineteenth century. A repressed cultural intelligence reserve is concentrated in the flesh of the newly freed from slavery institution, and the discourse of their body dialogued with the Metropolitan reason of Europeans. The audible range of energy of African accent expanded colonizing European music and dance. In Lundu, in jongo in capoeira, the soul of Africa maintained its dignity of expression, injecting the poison of syncope  for good into the melodic vein of the known Music. The authority of Europe continued in the documents of style: the frame of the body was the rule in ballroom dancing. Popular Brazil, the lower classes, adapted this illusion of elegance as they were part of their dreams. Waltz and polka represented prosperity and wealth. But their mixed consciousness no longer let them ignore the potential sensuality acquired by their defenseless ears. Perhaps the most brilliant movements created in Brazilian land have always involved a game of waist incomprehensible to Europe. Inspired by the “umbigadas” from Jongo, the male hips pumped the woman from ahead or from behind, sometimes with rotations and windings that accompanied the swell of the musical movement. Maxixe was first classified as a "forbidden dance" to make clear the disapproval of the classes that held the monopoly of aesthetic interpretation. The first rebellion to contribute to the independence of the Brazilian body language, was made by Maxixe dancers. And the halls where they use to dance were located in the second floor of center old houses, along Lapa and Botafogo. These halls were called “Gafieiras”. According to the regular mythology that word comes from the term "gaffe" (from French). Gafieiras were the places where people committed "gaffes", errors of etiquette or lack of attention to the conventional rules. A famous chronicler helped to solidify this title in an edition of the newspaper. As the criterion for the gaffes came precisely from Conventions that were unable to understand the new language that was being built, then we can say that the name is a tribute. It is a honor that the greatest expression of body loyalty to Brazilian music is called "samba de gafieira". And so in fact it is called, with great pride. The development of this dance followed the related development steps of the music itself: the Argentine tango has always been among the cast of influences of Brazilian music, and the technical refinement of samba de gafieira had to go organic and necessarily through a phase of strong influences from Tango (international dancers could never understand this, because they think in Brazilian music as a stereotype of carnival). The personality, however, remained attached to the syncopated matrix borrowed from Africa. Ginga, molejo, the flexibility of the belt line, make up the soul of its bodily behavior, and belongs to the sensation sought by the dance. The joy and sorrow of the people who attended the dance halls of Rio in the early twentieth century and the late nineteenth fertilized the box of movements, whether in imitation of each other, whether by competition. The gafieiras continued fruitful for many decades. Today the technicality of samba gafieira reached a level that excludes expressions of amateurism. Many gaffes remains, however, in steps as ‘baratinha’ and ‘vassourinha’. If we wish, however, we can say that the spirit of gaffes remained in the center of the dance, alive specially in the space created in the dance to explore the footwork of both the follower as the leader. As a result we have a mature and autonomous cultural expression, which grew by constant exposure to the trends of music and samba art in general, later acquiring a dosage of influence of the hills (os morros), the slums, the passion for football, and finally coming to a refined structure of leading. Big congress in Rio de Janeiro shows, today, how samba de gafieira is present in the dance studies and enlightenment of Brazilian dancers, and how far they had gone in the development of this language of exploring samba music. Sometimes it seems like their second nature. Video below can help me: 

International ballroom samba dancers dance today to a very old version of Maxixe, whose name later changed to samba for pure monetary reasons. Even the movements that remain the same, however, have been tampered with to acquire a more European structure, mixed with Latin stereotypes, and danced to Caribbean music, which insults the memory of the Brazilian culture and music. The international ballroom samba not only is not samba, as it is not Maxixe anymore. It is nothing but a mere shadow of random features copied to a Latin model of happiness and joy without end, who seduces naive Europeans – and it has a market. Flown by old technical ideas and classical traditions, the international federation still tries to speak for a cultural reality that does not touch them. When referring to real samba, they maliciously refers to the "Brazilian samba" as if this is the exception, a mere erotic and exotic hump without relevance, while the ballroom samba would be the rule. And they give themselves the right to feel indignant and outraged if someone challenges them and ask for explanations. Brazilians are seen as boring primitive creatures preventing them from exercising their pure artistic tampering, as if it were not outrageous and disrespectful to speak for the body and intelligence of a culture of which they understand: nothing.

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