Updated: Apr 26
Did you ever embraced someone and it felt so good that you didn't want it to finish? Did the connection with someone made all your moves flow better than they ever did?
I believe that a good connection and a comfortable embrace are two of the most important factors in a great forró dance. It makes the dance much more enjoyable and allows dancers to have meaningful interactions.
Forrozeiros tend to have some of the most natural and friendly embraces among partner dances. I would even dare to say that the forró embrace is one of the reasons why people like to dance forró so much.
It is remarkable how much a good embrace can enhance our forró experience. But what makes a good forró embrace?
Based on more than 15 years of experience on the dance floor and 3 years teaching forró weekly in New York City, I wrote this list of 5 important characteristics of the best forró embraces.
Reciprocity is the foundation. Both partners should be wanting to engage in the embrace. If any of the partners are emotionally uncomfortable with the hug, it needs to change, the approach has to be different. This has nothing to do with technique. This has to do with personal space, intimacy, and respect.
Each person understands and feels the embrace in a different way. Each partnership on the dance floor has its emotional implications. We should understand it, be empathic and respectful.
My suggestion is: embrace your partner the way you like and want to be embraced. If she/he reciprocates, wonderful! If she/he responds in a different or negative way, adjust. (this relates to number 5)
Forró is a dance that uses full-body contact. We use contact to communicate, lead, and follow. Different than some other partner dances that rely mostly on visual cues and hands/arms, forró uses the entire body to connect. It has a strong tactile element.
By creating this kind of contact we can move together seamlessly and feel small nuances of movements by our partner. It also allows us to have a very subtle and organic lead/follow relationship.
3. Positive use of the embrace
Use the connection and embrace to communicate movement and create good tactile feelings and reactions on your partner.
A big mistake that I often see on the dance floor is when people use their partners to "solve" their balance problems or use the partner to hold arms weight and body weight. It not only very uncomfortable but also limits the movements we can do.
Bring your best self to the embrace!
4. Active embrace
Both partners - leads and follows - are responsible for creating and maintaining good contact and embrace during the dance. The dance relationship should be balanced. The goal here is to have an active embrace as a tool to facilitate coordinated movement.
5. Ability and willingness to adapt
Each person is different, each body is different, each dance relationship is different and each embrace will be different. We have so many ways to approach and use our embrace. We should choose it according to our partner and the situation.
The ability and willingness to adapt is a key element to make all embraces enjoyable experiences both partners. The alternation between different kinds of embrace can also be a great opportunity to create interest in your dance and relationship with your partner.
There are 2 main ways of thinking about adaptation:
A) A general adaptation to your partner, adapt to his/her body, and your level of intimacy with him/her.
B) To the development of the dance. Different movements require different kinds of embrace and the embrace can be used in creative and musical ways.
I hope these 5 ideas help you to enjoy your dance even more with your partner.
I wrote this list preparing the Forró Connection & Embrace Course, a 2+ hours course focused on the embrace and connection. Click in the link below if you are interested and want to know more about it.
About the author
Rafael Piccolotto de Lima is an experienced teacher. He is passionate about arts, a doctor of musical arts, and a Latin Grammy nominee as a composer. For him, all forms of expression are somehow related. Based on that premise, his interest and work have a wide spectrum: from a tail tux at a concert hall, to the dance shoes 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.
YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/rafaelpdelima