Samba Funk: an interview wit’ Artistic Director Theo Aytchan Williams – San Francisco Bay View

Samba Funk: an interview wit’ Artistic Director Theo Aytchan Williams
San Francisco Bay View
However, my specialty is in cultural dance forms – West African, African Brazilian, and some African Cuban, African Peruvian and various African Latino social and carnival dances. I study and present carnival dances of the Americas, including North
Photo: Racheal Goodwin

A SambaFunk! dancer on Brazil Day 2011

M.O.I. JR: What makes Brazilian dance different from traditional African dances as well as different from the dances created by Africans in the Americas?

Theo: Since Africans touched the shores of the “New World,” our influences have been immediately felt. In Brazil, African influences are easily identified in the music, dance and food. The strong traditions of the drum, call and response singing and chanting, and some religious and social traditions have remained in Brazilian culture. Brazil is the largest country in South America and home of the largest population of Blacks outside of the African continent. The state of Salvador is the welcomed home of African Brazilian lifestyle, and Bahia is the first capital city and original landing spot of the Portuguese explorers.

Upon my visit in January of 2011, I witnessed a strong African presence. Brazilian dance has retained many elements of traditional African dance; however, it has developed its own infectious style.

The most popular Brazilian dance worldwide is Samba – another African art form. In the ‘70s there was an interest in Funk, and a new genre of Samba Funk was created, while the ‘90s saw the infusion of Caribbean rhythms creating Samba Reggae. Contemporary Brazilian masters have infused modern dance with religious and social dances, creating new artistic expressions as well. In SambaFunk! we stay open to learning and expressing all of these aspects of African Brazilian culture. We regularly invite visiting masters to teach.

SambaFunk! performs for Shpongle\’s \”Beija Flor\” Encore

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