Transition periods make us think. At least that is what happens with me. About 3 years ago, when I was about to conclude my Doctoral studies in Miami, I was thinking hard about the next steps in my career. I would also think about all the other things that I wanted to experience but were never a priority for me. Traveling to dance forró was one of those things, especially to participate in festivals.
Ever since I started to dance, people would talk about the Itaúnas festivals (Espirito Santo - Brazil) and since the early 2010's I also started to hear about European events. But I hadn't attended any of them. My forró experience was limited to the parties in my hometown - Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil - both during my college years while I still lived there, and also during the summer vacations when I would come back home from pursuing my Masters and Doctorate studies.
I cannot complain. Campinas was the host of one of the very best forró venues in the 2000's, called Cooperativa Brasil. Many of the most important bands would perform there to crowded audiences full of good dancers. Both very traditional trios, like Trio Xamego or Trio Nordestino, and also famous "forró universitário" bands, like Falamansa, Circuladô de Fulô and Rastapé used to perform there regularly. My forró experiences out of town were limited to some São Paulo venues, like Canto da Ema and Remelexo, some small parties in the coast of São Paulo, one show in Natal (Northeast of Brazil) and another in Curitiba (South of Brazil). But at that time I never participated in a festival.
This was about to change! Soon I would be having very different experiences, from a very unique position: as a dance instructor. My debut in a festival happened at the very first big USA festival, the Forró Fest USA 2017 in Boston. Since then I have been a part of many other events. I was an instructor at the Boston Brazil Dance Festival 2017, NY Forró Fest 2018 - in which I was also a pedagogical coordinator - Forró Fest USA 2018 and more recently the Forrobodó NY Festival, which I conceptualized.
All these events were culturally enriching experiences. They were great chances to meet, dance, and create friendships with some of the main forró dancers and instructors active today, such as Valmir and Milena from Belo Horizonte, Juruna from Itaúnas, Camila Alves from Lisbon, Erika Magno from Santos, Anax Caracol from London, Evandro Paz from São Paulo, among many others. It was also the chance to meet many people, that like myself, are passionate enough about this culture to be traveling just to dance.
I feel that all these experiences are making me reinvent myself as a dancer. I've danced forró for 12 years with an 'accent' very typical from my hometown, using a repertoire of moves and a body language that is very typical from the countryside of São Paulo. A few of these moves even seem like a 'trademark' from that region, rarely used in other dance floors. Now I realize that there are so many other charming 'accents' to forró dancing, so many ways of dancing that I want to learn and enjoy. I love to put myself in the student position in these festivals and learn from my instructor colleagues. It is my chance to discover other moves and delve deeper into various styles of dancing forró.
As I conclude this post I also started to take the dust off of my luggage, looking forward to many events and trips to come and encourage you all to participate in this kind of artistic celebration. It is an excellent opportunity to exchange knowledge, experience, and be boosted with positive energy. I also want to share with you all some of the news and plans that I have for 2019. I will be teaching a workshop in Seattle April 7th, a few workshops in San Francisco April 13th and 14th, and at the Montreal Forró Fest on May 3, 4 and 5. I hope to see you there!
I will also take this opportunity to announce a new project for this channel, new videos and other blogs about the new forró experiences I'm about to have here in North America! Let me invite you to subscribe and join this journey. There is much to come, stay tuned and participate!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Rafael Piccolotto de Lima is passionate about arts, a doctor of musical arts and a Latin Grammy nominee as a composer. For him all forms of expressions are somehow related. Based on that premise, his interest and work has a wide spectrum: from a tail tux at a concert hall, to the sandals at a worn-out dance floor. Born in Campinas, São Paulo - Brazil, now he lives at the Hudson waterfront, looking at the south of Manhattan.