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Statues of Forró musicians


(Portuguese pronunciation: [fo’rro]) is a kind of Northeastern Brazilian dance that developed from European styles of folk music such as "Chula" and "Xotis" (term that originated the derivate "xote"), as well as a word used to denote the different genres of music which accompanies the dance. Both are much in evidence during the annual Festa Junina (June Festival), a part of Brazilian traditional culture which celebrates some Catholic saints. The most celebrated day of the festival is known as São João.

Forró was born in the northeast of Brazil, from a mixture of African and European influences. Originally, it was characterized by the sound of the accordion, zabumba (a type of drum), triangle and the concertina, but now in Brazil the modern Forró - Forró Universitário - is known to have added electronic instruments. This simple two-step dance is danced by couples who hold each other closely and elaborate with turns and variations.

Origin of the term

The 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 Railway of Brazil near Recife 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.


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 Central regions.


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 (saudade) 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 literal 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 a certain white winged bird of the savanna (sertão) that only arrives when it rains.

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; 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.

Forro Steps

How to dance Forro - Youtube links:

1 -
3 -
4 -

Thanks to

Brener Monducci

Comments / Comentários
10/12/2011  | 10:01:18 PM
Thanks for sharing
Hi, really good article. Thanks for sharing with us.
Marco Sebba
United States - California - El Cerrito

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