Andy Samel gives us his thoughts...
I felt sad recently when a good friend of mine from forró told me that he doesn’t come as often to forró any more because it’s “changed”. “Changed, in what way?” I asked him. He told me that it’s not as friendly as it used to be and that it feels more competitive. I then heard that another friend of mine sharing this same sentiment.
Naturally, I felt worried and it got me thinking about whether this is really true and has forró been changing for better or worse. I like to think of forró as a really friendly and welcoming environment but maybe it is simply not true.
I must admit, that since I started dancing forró, it certainly has changed. I remember my first inspiration of forró was when I was at a party on Ilha Grande, an island off the south coast of Brazil. It must have been about 2007 and I remember very clearly a couple both dressed in white gliding around the room in a beautiful dance. They clearly knew each others dancing style very well as I remember the guy leading the woman in some intricate turns without even touching her. The main thing I noticed however, was their beautiful connection with each other. They looked in love, happy and completely lost in their dance. It was flowing and graceful.
I guess that image of the couple dressed in white has stayed in my head because to me it has always symbolised what forró is about. Sharing a flowing, graceful and loving connection with a partner. Later when I started to discover forró in London and decided I wanted to be able to dance myself, there was only one club on a Monday night, Bar Madrid. It felt like I was the only gringo in the place and it was exciting and scary to try and understand how to dance forró when there were not any classes (that I was aware of anyway).
I remember the dance was a lot simpler in those days. I don't really remember the dance being anything other than dancing in a close embrace side to side, forward and back and the odd basic turn thrown in. My only hope was that I would be able to last a whole song with a girl with it feeling nice and that she wouldn’t stop the dance halfway through. I spent weeks practicing basic steps solely with the aim of having a wonderful connection with my dance partner.
Over the years, it is true to say that forró has been a great vehicle for people with other dance backgrounds to share their knowledge. I think because the roots of forró are so simple, it has been a perfect canvas to paint ones own dance. Influences from Zouk, Tango, Lambada, Kizomba and many more, are all making forró an exciting playground to find new moves and discover more and more. Overall I think this is great. However, I feel sad when I see people starting forró and imagine it can be a bit overwhelming for them when there are so many complicated moves to see and potentially learn.
There is a tendency to want to try and learn these moves very quickly and to miss the point of forró (at least in my view) of trying to enjoy a simple connection with your partner. There is no rush. There is no ultimate aim other than to enjoy the dance. That is forró, that is its essence. To come back to my friends point at the beginning. I think it has changed but as long as we are only competing with ourselves to find connection in every dance, lets embrace the change!
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