Many people call Samba the “soundtrack of Brazil”. In the same way Brazilians practice Samba to let go of everyday hardships and seize the joys of life, you too can feel the vibrant beat in your feet, hips, and heart. The rhythm feels like a pulse and the beat really makes you want to move. It is light, upbeat, and fun.

Samba’s lengthy history generated the dance’s many variations, including Sambolero, Samba de Breqe, Samba-coro, Samba-cancao, Samba-enredo and Samba de morro. Arthur Murray dance instructors can teach them all, depending on the student’s goals, but focus on the partnered ballroom dance variation, often called the “Brazilian waltz.” Our promise is to pair you with kind and supportive teachers that make both personal and group lessons fun and enjoyable.


How To Dance The Samba

Samba is a spot dance, meaning you can learn how to dance Samba by learning the basic one-and-two steps first and then building upon those steps. Arthur Murray teaches Samba danced in 2/4 time. In the basic moves, leaders step forward with their left foot on step “one,” while followers step back with their right foot. On the “and-two” both dancers close their feet and collect them underneath their body, switching weight with every count. Then the leader steps back on the right foot, and followers step forward on the left foot. The rhythm reflects “boom-da-doom, boom-da-doom” and your feet imitate the same pulse.

The most important and unique aspect of Samba is the bounce. When you step, you emphasize a bounce with an upswing motion. Another important feature of Samba to learn is the motion of stepping over a log between partners. Your legs will soften and straighten, soften and straighten. To embrace and execute the true appeal of the Samba, dancers learn how to incorporate happy, often flirtatious and energetic interpretation. Many steps require pelvic tilts. This action takes practice to accomplish at first, but dancers at Arthur Murray find ease with their expert teacher’s instruction.

The Roots of Samba

Samba is an old style of Brazilian dance. Before 1914 it was more commonly known by the Brazilian predecessor name “Maxixe.” As it gained influence from the Cuban Habanera and the German Polka, Samba earned the reputation it has today. For over 100 years, it has filled the street parades at the Rio Carnival and nightclubs in Rio de Janeiro. Popularity took off worldwide when a 1928 French dance publication included instructions for learning Samba. It was introduced to audiences in the United States through on-screen films: Flying Down to Rio in 1933 and That Night in Rio several years later. At the 1938 New York Society of Teachers of Dancing, Samba was an exhibition and was highlighted again at the World’s Fair in New York in 1939. The classic Samba song, “Brazil,” written by Brazilian composer Ary Barroso was a hit and inspired the musical “Brazil” in 1944.

The word “samba” stems from semba, which refers to an “invitation to dance.” Over time, it gained influence and evolved into Samba-cancao, or a slower, more romantic version. Samba de morro, a more percussive and funkier style, is the most widely danced style today. The primary inspiration for the Samba de morro were the “escolas de samba,” or samba schools, who play and dance for the annual Rio Carnival, the largest carnival festival in the world. Rio Carnival is filled with elaborate costumes, floats, singing and dancing, bringing in half a million tourists each year to share in the celebration.

How We Teach Samba at Arthur Murray Studios

Beginner dancers start with the basics and slowly build on the moves and increase the tempo, while intermediate to highly skilled dancers learn to integrate intricate moves at a fast pace. In this way, learning Samba at Arthur Murray is for dancers of all levels. 

Women typically dance Samba in platform heels and costumes adorned with sequins and feathers. We encourage dancers to have fun, but elaborate outfits are not required in the studio. However, once you know the dance, your techniques may take you to see performances at Brasil Brasil Cultural Center & Capoeira Batuque in Culver City, or to try out your moves at Club Mayan in Downtown Los Angeles. You may even find yourself all the way in Rio de Janeiro, where the nightclubs and the Rio Carnival will move you.

Dancers love Arthur Murray because we encourage them to be socially and physically active. Dancing can introduce you to potential friends that you might not have met otherwise. To sign up for your first class, you do not have to be a great dancer and you do not have to have a partner. Our dancers love coming to Arthur Murray because of our talented, supportive and fun teachers, for the new friends they make, and for the fact that dancing keeps dancers mentally and physically fit.


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