Forró

Forró

(June Festival), a part of Brazilian traditional culture which celebrates some of the saints of the Catholic religion. The most celebrated day of the festival is known as the Saint John's (São João) day.

Origin of the term

The most accepted theory puts "forró" as a derivative of "forrobodó", meaning "great party" or "commotion". This is the view held by Brazilian folklorist Câmara Cascudo, who studied the Brazilian Northeast through most of his life. Forrobodó is believed to come from the word "forbodó" (itself a corruption of fauxbourdon), which was used in the Portuguese court to define a dull party.

Another theory often heard popularly in Brazil is that the word "forró" is a derivative of the English expression "for all" and that it originated in the early 1900s. English engineers on the Great Western Railroad would throw balls on weekends and classify them as either only for railroad personnel or for the general populace ("for all"). This belief was somewhat reinforced by a similar practice by USAF personnel stationed at the Natal Air Force Base during World War II, but it is not possible because before the USAF went to Natal, the name "Forró" was already in use.

There is a third theory that it also comes from the number of the engine that the English engineers used as they roamed the tracks of the railroad supervising the construction, "40" or " Four-oh" that was corrupted by the Brazilians into "Forró".

Popularity

Forró is the most popular genre in Brazil's Northeast. It is the name of the dance. Different genres of music can be used to dance the forró. Traditionally, all of these music genres uses only three instruments (accordion, zabumba and a metal triangle). The dance also become very different as you cross the borders of the Northeast into the Southeast. As part of the popular culture it is in constant change. The dance known as "college forró" is the most common style between the middle-class students of colleges and universities in the Southeast, having influences of other dances like salsa and samba-rock. The traditional music used to dance the forró was brought to the Southeast from the Northeast by Luiz Gonzaga, who transformed the baião (a word originated from "baiano" and assigned a warm-up for artists to search for inspiration before playing) into a more sophisticated rhythm. In later years, forró achieved popularity throughout Brazil, in the form of a slower genre known as "xote", that has been influenced by pop-rock music to become more acceptable by Brazilian youth of Southeast, South and Center-West.

Themes

Forró lyrics are usually about love and romance, passion, jealousy, or reminiscing about an ex-lover.They often are about Northeastern themes and the longing or homesickness ("saudades") that was often experienced during migrations in search of work. An example of this are the lyrics of a folkloric, anonymous song, very popular in the Northeast and made famous across the country by Luiz Gonzaga, "Asa Branca" (the literally translation is White Wing, there is a recent American version played by Forro in the Dark featuring David Byrne) in which the singer says he will return home when the rains fall again on the dry, barren land of Northeast. They will know he is coming when they see the certain white winged bird of the savanna (sertão) that only arrives when it rains.

Artists

Jackson do Pandeiro and Luiz Gonzaga are two of the most traditional forró composers. Major forro musicians include Geraldo Azevedo, Accioly Neto, Trio Nordestino, Dominguinhos, Eliane, Marinês, Falamansa, Trio Virgulino, Sivuca, Pertúcio Amorim, Santanna, Rastapé, Geraldinho Lins, João do Vale, Flávio José, Trio Forrozão, Jacinto Silva, Arlindo dos Oito Baixos, Santana, Vicente Nery, Jorge de Altinho, Arleno Farias, Nando Cordel, Aldemário Coelho, Delmiro Barros, and others.

Styles of forró

There are three rhythms of forró, xote (a slower-paced rhythm), baião (the original forró) and arrasta-pé (the fastest of the three), and amongst these, many styles of dancing, which varies from region to region, and may be known by different names according to the location. Forró is danced in pairs, usually very close together, with the man's left hand holding the woman's right hand as in the Waltz, his right arm around her back and her left arm around his neck; in this style, the man's right leg stays in between the woman's legs, following the African tradition of a close pelvis. Other styles may require to stay partially away, or in a considerable distance, only holding their hands up the shoulders. Influences from salsa and other Caribbean dances has given mobility to forró, with the woman - and occasionally the man - being spun in various ways, although it's not mandatory to spin at all, and more complex movements may prove impossible to be executed in the usually crowded dancing area of forrós. Follows below a list of the most popular styles of forró in Brazil:

Xote
* "xote": a basic style, danced close together in a left-left-right-right movement, and has no spinning or variations;
* "forró-love": similar to xote, but with a strong influence from zouk;
* "universitário": the most popular style outside Nordeste, much like the xote, but with the partners moving forward and backward, much like traditional Bolero. It contains many variations of movements;
* "miudinho": the man dances with his left side slightly tilted, his left hand on the woman's waist and her both her hands around his neck. Danced in the same place (mobility can be gained through spinning), has a lot of hip movements;
* "puladinho/manquinho": is danced with the man's right leg still and his left leg marking the beats on the ground, while the woman with her left leg still and her right leg moving (the partners can exchange the leg positions, although it's not common);
* "merenguinho": the partners move along the sides, with movements similar to Merengue dance;
* "cavalguinho": much like the puladinho, but with man and woman marking both their legs on the ground in alternate tempos, as if riding a horse.Xote originally has its roots on the schottische dance.

Baião
* "baião/pé-de-serra": basically a style of xote, but with the partners tilting to the sides and moving less their legs to follow the faster rhythm;
* "cacau": comes from Paraíba, in which the partners dance slightly away from each other in very fast leg movements;
* "amassa-cacau": a variation of cacau from Ceará, it's danced less close and demands a lot of hip movements, with the legs mimicking a person squeezing cacao
* "valsado": danced close together, consists of moving along the sides, crossing the legs in front of each other;
* "valsadão": same as valsado, but danced slightly away from each other. It is, together with universitário, the richest style in terms of movements and variations;
* "forrófieira": a newer style, mixes the traditional forró with steps and influence from Samba de Gafieira, and it has become quite popular in Rio de Janeiro and some parts of Nordeste.

Arrasta-pé
* arrasta-pé: can only be danced to its own style, much like a very fast xote, but alternatly marking the beats on the ground with both legs.

Miudinho and puladinho can also be danced to baião music and even to arrasta-pé, but in the latter the leg work is so intense that it's impracticable. Some people also like to include brega/calypso in the forró category, because this dance has suffered much influence of forró throughout the decades, but it's danced to its own rhythm (not to be mistaken with Calypso music).

External links

* [http://www.siderallmidia.com.br/ WebRádio de Forró - Brazil Northeast]
* [http://www.forrointhedark.com/ Forro in the Dark - Band out of NYC]
* [http://www.myspace.com/forrozinho33 Forrozinho - Bordeaux (Fr)]
* [http://www.forrodosimao.com/ Forró do Simão - Brazilian-Swedish band]
* [http://www.kevincassidy.blogspot.com/ Blog containing thesis and fieldwork info on forró in Pernambuco]
* [http://www.reidobaiao.com.br Rei do Baião] (Portuguese)
* [http://www.andreabrasilmadrid.es/ Forro in Madrid] (Spanish)


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