Dancemax Letter#7, Thursday, July 13, 2000


Dancing Tid-bits
"a" and "&" in Samba

When we split a beat and add an extra step, this is commonly referred to as "syncopation". This "split beat" can be danced as "a" or "&". The beat value of "a" is while "&" represents beat. It is also very important to remember that "a" or "&" belongs to the beat that is gone by (the one before a or &). In other words, in 1a2, "a" belongs to 1. In my last few letters we have discussed Swing and Jive, Cha Cha Cha and Rumba but we have waited to do Samba. So many different rhythms in Samba, it will drive you crazy, but that is the beauty of this dance. The following examples will clarify:

A typical feature of Samba is it's "Bounce Action" in figures where we use "a". This action does not mean bopping up and down. Rather, the bounce, which is created by bending and straightening of the Knees, is absorbed in the Pelvis creating the "bounce action". Laird's new book describes this action well. Again, this does not mean bouncing up and down, please.

Warning: If you are not into International Samba, this information may be too hazardous. Please Disregard.
  1. Basic: 1 a 2, or Slow a Slow ( S a S) beat value 1, Bounce action in all figures counted as 1 a 2
  2. Forward and Back Rocks: 1 2&, or SQQ, beat value 1 , No Bounce action on SQQ rhythm. Also in this group Natural roll.
  3. Plait: 1 2 3&4,567&8, As you can see 3&4 and 7&8 will be QQS, therefore the plait rhythm is SSQQS, SSQQS. Beat value 1 1 1..1 1 1. No Bounce
  4. Corta Jaca: (maxixe of American style) 1 2& 3& 4& or S QQ QQ QQ (2 bars) No Bounce
  5. PP to CPP Runs: Walter Laird Timing 1 2 3, beat value Bounce? Individual preference, most dancers perhaps will not use bounce these days.
  6. Reverse Turn is usually danced with bounce action 1a2 (SaS) but can be danced without bounce action, "1 2&" thus giving timing SQQ
  7. Volta movements: 1a2a3a4 or SaSaSaS, beat value 1, bounce action?.yes! of course. There is an "a" there in this.
Are you with me? Of course, if you have not studied Samba in detail it sounds confusing. In my American Style training these differences were not pointed out and it was an eye opening experience when I learned International. How exciting? By now I think everybody is sick of "a" and "&" and we should change the subject next time around, but hope this will clarify some confusion in counting these basic figures Disagreements and comments always welcome. Happy Dancing and best wishes, Max

Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.


This article is part of and should be seen in the frame context of Dancesport UK, Tid-bits