Anette Carla


passinho: beat, moves and afro-brazilian resistance

July 30, 2019
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Passinho is a social dance that emerged in the Brazilian funk culture of Rio de Janeiro in the communities of the early 2000s. Even Queen Beyoncé was so enchanted by this dance, loaded with style and presence of Black Brazilian youth, that she added it at her last Brazilian performance — a “funk carioca moment.” Predictably, the audience went wild.

One of the biggest practitioners of passinho are the Os Imperadores da Dança (IDD) (a.k.a. Emperors of the Dance). The dance troupe was created in 2008, in Morro do Jacaré, north of Rio, by Anderson Santana. Some of its most famous members — Iguinho IDD, Severo IDD and Yure IDD — have participated in international performances, and recently won a dance contest on Brazilian TV.

A decade before Passinho emerged in the unprivileged favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Kuduro emerged in Luanda, Angola, across the Atlantic. Both rhythms are a mosaic of Black beats, and show how the African diaspora influences rhythms, dances and recreates cultural movements.

When it began, the function of these dances was to get the attention of women at Brazilian funk parties called “baile.” That’s why most of the dancers are boys, but nowadays you can find girls that rock that style too — like the singer Lellêzinha who started her career in the group named “Dream Team do Passinho.”

Although Passinho has already crossed borders — in 2014, a show called “Battle of Passinho” took place at New York’s Lincoln Center — in Brazil, this social movement, that is intimately connected with Rio’s Funk, which continues to be criminalized by the authorities and side-eyed by a racist, elitist society.

Criminalization is still a reality faced by these groups, and according to Renata Prado, founder of Funk’s National Women’s Front (Frente Nacional de Mulheres do Funk), it’s necessary to give more visibility to that entire movement. Like samba, which has a criminal past but is today considered national heritage, and rap, which was once persecuted and is now a staple of television programming, funk came from the Black periphery, and was blamed for anti-social behavior. As Prado points out, now we are everywhere and this is a reflection of the relationship between Black youth and culture.

The Passinho can be faced as resistance to violence also because many kids who live in underprivileged communities can find themselves in that cultural movement and express yourself through the music and dance. More than a dance, Passinho is an urban expression of the Black community that promotes social rearrangement, while highlighting the power of innovation and creativity of our people.