The Brazilian Carnival: The Greatest (Dance) Show on Earth

brazilian carnival

It’s Brazilian Carnival Time! The flashy and vibrant five-day annual event may not be as well-known in the U.S., but the dance it’s centered around is — the Samba. If you’re a fan of Dancing with the Stars, you are no stranger to Samba. This type of dance is sexy and mesmerizing, which makes it a popular choice among the show’s paired up dancers and celebrities. But don’t think this dance is only for couples! Samba can be performed solo or with a group.

Samba originated in Brazil and has African dance influences. It was originally integrated into Carnival activities in 1917. By the 1930s, the dance started to gain increased popularity thanks to radio’s ability to transmit its music to new locations. Then, actress Carmen Miranda proudly began highlighting Samba dance moves in her Hollywood films, bringing international popularity to the dance through the 1950s. Today it’s considered the national dance of Brazil, is a classic part of the nation’s culture and is a staple in Carnival events.

Carnival is part of the Easter season. It begins in the afternoon on the Friday before Ash Wednesday and ends midday on Ash Wednesday. This year, dancers clad in glittering, feathered costumes will descend upon major cities in Brazil from February 9 through 14. Various regions of Brazil have their own unique style of rhythms and costumes, and hold their own parades and festivals to celebrate this period. However, the largest celebration is held in Rio de Janeiro, and holds the Guinness World Record of “Largest Carnival.” An average of two million spectators come out each day to drink, eat and Samba their way through the streets. Brazilians dub the festival “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

Want to celebrate Carnival but unable to get to Brazil? If Austin, Texas, isn’t too far of a hike, you can check out the second largest Carnival celebration outside Brazil on February 10. If you’d rather not travel, turn on your computer, make yourself a Caipirinha, and enjoy Carnival in the comfort of your own home through live streaming video.

If the festivity of Carnival inspires you to learn the Samba, come in to your local Fred Astaire Dance Studio to try out a class. We’ll start slowly and soon enough, you’ll feel ready to take to the streets in Brazil to join in the fun!