First Impression: Take the picture!
Second Impression: I’m about to sneeze!
The DVD begins with a a title card that warns that the producers, choreographers, etc cannot guarantee that the exercises in this video are safe for everyone. Wow, Samba is the bungee jumping of dance! Samba is a Big Gulp of Mountain Dew on a zip line! Whooooo!
The night time is the right time in a plaza that’s actually in Santa Barbara, not Brazil. But I didn’t know this until I looked at the credits. It certainly seems authentic. There’s strings of colored lights dangling from the tenement buildings. A line of laundry hung up between fire escapes is perfectly centered in the background, and some local women in tight colorful dresses are in conversation with a local fruit vendor. This is where we live, and love, and dance!
Now the Brazilian Rhythm Celebration can begin! Instructor Vanessa Issac perches on a fountain, her flesh-colored microphone stuck to her head. Her dancers, dressed in jazz pants and fit-and-flared satin tops, stretch vigorously behind her.
The workout takes place on a raised platform next to a restaurant with an outdoor patio. The patrons enjoy a leisurely dinner as they watch Vanessa lead us through some basic Samba steps. Meanwhile, a four-piece percussion group accompanies the dancers. I’m talking bongos, a cowbell, a wooden fish scraper thing, the works.
As Vanessa leads us through a fun series of Samba moves, even the extras cannot resist the intoxicating rhythms of Brazil. They groove in place, waiting for their turn to break free.
The choreography is easy, fun to do, and punctuated with cries of “Eh! Ah!” It begins with a hip swivel that actually feels really good on your lower back. There’s a Samba square, which is like a jazz square, except you fling your arms back in a celebration of life.
At the end of the workout, all the local people from the street rush the stage and join in the dance. We break out of the forward-facing lines of dancers, and then the true Samba energy takes over the party. Even the drummers bring their instruments onto the stage as the celebration goes on into the night.