Passinho - Brazilian Urban Dance

Passinho is a dance-style that originated in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro in the early 2000's. A group of teenagers started mixing brazilian dances styles such as Samba and Frevo with US hip-hop dance styles such as Breaking and Pop/Locking, all to the tune of the ever popular Baile Funk music. Some of these kids recorded their friends and uploaded the videos to youtube, which quickly spread around the young generation in the favela communities. What first started as a playful game amongst close friends quickly spread into a cultural phenomenon.

While Passinho had not broken into the mainstream and was still restricted to the favelas, Passinho dance crews started forming, and they started to compete amongst each other for bragging rights and small prizes. As the competitions grew in popularity, dance techniques were being perfected, all the while adding new moves to create more diversity in the styles of passinho. Unfortunately, tragedy is what brought passinho into the mainstream. The murder of one of the most promising dancers, Gambá, sent shockwaves through the passinho community and became national news, highlighting the levels of violence teenagers in favelas face on a daily basis. While many brazilians often stigmatize favela culture and associate them with criminal activity, these forms of cultural expressions do the exact opposite: incentivizing dance, music, and art in the youth of favelas keeps them from joining into gang-culture and violent activity. 

Today, passinho has gained worldwide attention. It was performed in the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, and passinho dance crews travel all over the world performing in international dance festivals. Passinho is the newest form of brazilian urban cultural expression in the 21st century, but it follows a long line of brazilian cultural expressions which have the same thing in common: the mixture of different sources and ideas and the creation of a brand new form of art, in order to overcome hardships in everyday life. 

 

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