By Rodrigo Brandão
Danielle Lima, a certified yoga instructor and one of the most established samba instructors in New York City, has a wide and impressive dance curriculum – she worked worked for Ringling Bros, Barnum & Bailey Circus (under choreographer Tony Stevens), taught modern and ethnics dance workshops in the YMCA in Harlem, NY, and joined Djoniba Dance & Drum Centre as a teacher of Brazilian Samba in early 2004. Ms. Lima is also one of the artists teachers at the American Ballroom Theater.
Danielle’s approach for teaching samba mixes fitness training, as well as traditional and contemporary Samba from both Rio and Bahia. And in this exclusive interview for BrazilNYC, she makes her case about why Samba is for everyone who wants to dance.
Rodrigo Brandão: It seems to me that a full hour of samba practice could be a very intense workout. Is your class open to people of all ages, genders and backgrounds?
Danielle Lima: A Samba dance class is a intensive workout, but with the sound of Brazilian music and the energetic movements of samba you do not feel like you are working out very hard. The class is open for adults of all ages, male and female. It is for people looking for a fun workout, as well professional dancers who want to add a different dance style in their work.
RB: When did you learn Samba and how long have you been teaching it in the United States?
DL: Samba always have been part of my life. My family was and still is involved with the carnaval parade. My mother was my first samba teacher, until I was old enough to perform in a Samba school. I performed for many years in the ala mirim (kids group) in the Beija-flor de Nilopolis one of the biggest Samba School of Rio de Janeiro. In the United States, I have been teaching it for five years.
RB: Is Samba similar to other Latin dances, like Salsa & Merengue? Does it help if you’ve taken a Salsa class before?
DL: Most Latin dance styles like the ones you mentioned, including Samba, have roots in African dances, but each style has its own particular tempo and rhythm. It helps If you have taken any type of dance, just because you have more consciousness of you body movements. But this is not a requirement.
RB: What are some of the benefits of taking a Samba class? What are some of the muscles and body areas that this class focuses on?
DL: Dancing Samba you work your whole body; muscles like the gluteus, quadriceps, abs, etc. During the class your work your balance, your posture and most importantly your mind. You dance the stress away by moving your body with no pressure or judgments. The focuses of the class is fun!!!
RB: I get a little irritated when I hear people cay that only Brazilians can Samba? Please, tell us some success stories of non-Brazilian samba dancers.
DL: Not only Brazilian can dance samba. There are amazing Samba dancers from all over the world. And one of the reasons that I love teaching Samba in NYC is when a non Brazilian student of mine comes to me all proud of what they had accomplished and say: ” I was dancing samba and someone came to me speaking Portuguese, because of my samba this person thought I was Brazilian”
RB: Where can we see professional like you perform in NYC?
DL: You can find a Brazilian show with amazing Samba dancers in S.O.Bs every Saturday night.