Passinho (The little step dance of the Favela's )

Authored by:
Jenika S.

Jenika S.

Since the 70's Brazilians has been known to be drunk on funk, yet,  the dance craze (baile funk) was never discovered until the late 2000s. Often simply referred to as funk; Carioca funk has its own distinct style. Funk is a mix of Miami bass and African-style music, producing an underground, gritty sound. This dance style is most popular among women in the baile funks (funk parties) and is similar to twerking, with emphasis on pronounced hip movement.

 “Passinho”, which translates to “small step”, is a fusion of pop, funk, and breakdancing set to Brazilian rhythms like frevo and samba, a derivative of Brazilian Carioca. Although, it is the drumbeat that makes this dance style complex, fast and filled with a hyper-energetic blur of moves. Contrast unlike the masculinity of baile funk, passinho incorporates dance styles from all genres, like capoeira, samba, breakdancing and rapid-fire, wholly improvised footwork into a more fluid mix.

Additionally, Passinho is more than a dance, it is a symbol for the young dancers who were born and now live in the favelas. It is an outlet for them to express how they feel about their circumstances, thereby, producing an alternative to violence and drug-trafficking which is introduced to children of favelas at a very young age. Moreover, what was once considered to be a dance of drug dealers and thugs,  has gained massive popularity and spread rapidly beyond the walls of the favelas, shattering negative stereotypes. The popularity of this dance grew even further with its presence on Youtube and the 2014 World Cup. 

During one of our extra-curricular activities at CIEE, we were taught this amazing dance style by a very famous dancer of Passinho- Celly. Marcelly or Celly IDD (Emperors of Dance) is the most famous female dancer from Passinho in Brazil. She is commonly referred to as the "Empress of Dance," Celly was the first female representative of the small river in the H2K. In 2012, as a professional, she participated in several TV programs, battles, workshops, and dance shows. Two years later, she was the first female champion in a fights battle in New York and in 2017 won the first national funk competition in Belo Horizonte. She says '' Passinho gives us the freedom to create our own style, attitude and ultimately, the confidence to be whoever we want to be.”

I must admit it was tricky at first to learn the footwork for this dance, as with most Brazilian dances is very fast paced. Nevertheless, my classmates and I were able to become little amateur masters of the dance. Dancing Passinho was really fun and i got an amazing cardio workout that made me feel muscles in places I did know had muscles. The entire culture and being of this genre of dance is truly inspirational, breaking the barriers of social as well as structural inequality. I cannot wait to be more versed in this genre of dance.

Below is a poem i wrote about dancing passinho and celly. Do enjoy!!!!





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