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Entry Two – Forró by Isaac Poole – 14 de Setembro de 2013

September 30, 2013

Entry Two – Forró

Today I slept in until about 11. I did the same the day before. Normally, I wake up at 7 so I have time to practice in the morning, work on whatever I have to and drink 2-3 cups of coffee, but because Bruno took us out to a Forró last night and the night before until 4 in the morning, any sleep that I get is brief and interrupted by about 17 hours. Yet despite intermittent yawning, I’ve been surrounded by amazing music so I not complaining. On Thursday we went to Clube do Choro to see Anat Cohen, an Israeli clarinet player, playing with the Trio Brasilerios. This trio actually came to U of L two years ago and played the first Choro I ever heard. Anat played more traditionally than I expected her to, calling classic Choro tunes like Cochanido, but also many Choro-inspired originals by Anat and the Trio. I should try to find if they have any recordings together. In the final set for the last two tunes a chromatic harmonica player that was in the audience, Gabriel Grossi, came up and played with them. I have been getting into harmonica a bit, only yet able to play basic blues lines and with some easy bending, and I have heard a bit of his first album, but hearing him live was unbelievable. I literally did not think it was possible to do what he did on harmonica. His fantastic technicality and precision with his instrument and used bending and other idiomatic harmonica techniques to create a deeply expressive sound. Gabriel is actually a good friend of Bruno’s and played on this last album, so we got to meet him and talk to him briefly after the concert.

After this our professor that took us to the Choro, Bruno, our guitar teacher who we have almost all of our classes with, told us there was a big Forró show going on later on that the musicians from the connect where going to. “Yeah, it would be good for you to learn how to dance; it helps with rhythm” he said, so we thought, yeah, sounds good. So we went and saw everybody dancing and realized, we don’t know how to dance Forró. We knew before we got there that it would be different than any American dance that we (don’t) know, but we thought we could pick it up. Bruno told us “All you do is move,” Easy right? “But you have to move like this,”

Forró is a dance from the North-Eastern area in Brazil, from a state called Bahia, that is traditionally played with a trio consisting of Accordion, Triangle and a deep drum called a Zabumba. Tonight they were joined by a few more musicians, a Violão Sete Codas and a Caviquino, later by Gabriel and Anat. I have been learning about the music a bit in my Brazilian Rhythms class; there are two styles of rhythm with the tradition of Forró, Baião and Xote, each with their own groove and dance. The dance itself is with partner, very close and can be very sensual. Susan, don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be and I didn’t try. What made it really difficult for us to pick up is that the man leads the woman, so nobody wanted to dance with the Americans guys that can’t dance Forró. The first group of girls that we asked said they didn’t know how to dance either, but then within the same song they were all dancing with another guy.

So that night was pointless. We stayed out until four just talking with some of the Swedish girls who also didn’t know how to dance – although they had a bit better of a time because guys are more than willing to teach them. The next night was much better. As we stood looking at the dense crowd of couples dancing incredibly close, closely studying the feet of some of the more advanced dancers, a girl walked up to me and asked, in English, if I wanted to be taught how to dance.

Another story that I am obligated to add is this; as we were standing and talking, a girl walks up to me and I thought, as I was in a very loud in environment and really not that good at Portuguese, she said something like “Sua barba é limpa,” meaning “Your beard is clean.” So I just kind of looked at her, confused like ‘how do you know that and why are you telling me?’ and when she finally gave up I turned to Ben and told him “I think she just told me my beard is clean.” – “Did she say ‘limpa’ or ‘linda’?” – “Linda” – And he starts laughing, “She said your beard was pretty.” A basic compliment probably with the intentions, as I see in retrospect, to get me to ask her to dance.

With this basic knowledge of the dance, I worked up the courage to ask another girl. It is fairly obvious to tell when they want to dance with you; they will walk up, sometimes from across the room, and stand next to you or in front of you and try really hard to make eye contact with you. What’s more is that I knew this girl saw me dance, so she knew I was bad. She taught me a bit, I learned a lot more from just doing it.

 

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