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Reply To: When Mythology meets Dance and Sounds,” with Dr. Monica Martinez”


    Hello Dr. Martinez., I’m so very looking forward to this discussion. Especially since it gives me an opportunity to ask you about something concerning the dance, music, myth, of Brazil. Every year just before the Catholic celebration of Lent people come from around the world for Carnival, and celebrated all over the Caribbean, New Orleans and especially in Brazil. The combinations of cultures, religions, dance, (i.e. Samba), costumes and floats all combine for the world’s biggest street party as a kind of Bacchanal celebration just before the Catholic celebration of Ash Wednesday and the starting of Lent. As some people may already know the African religions were suppressed in the US, but both the Portuguese and the Spanish slave trade landowners let the slaves keep their religions such as: Santeria, (known as the Way of the Saints), and the Afro-Brazilian version called Candomble’, which are displayed through the elaborate costumes and floats and Samba percussion groups that parade down the boulevards and city streets enticing people to dance. The Favelas and the Barrios all have their floats, dancers, themed costumes competing for each city’s grand prize, and many of the communities prepare for this competition all year long. The symbolisms and mythic themes are chosen by each group and it is a source of great pride.

    In 1959 a movie was made called: “Black Orpheus“, named after the Greek Myth of: “Orpheus and Euridice” and is played out against the backdrop of Carnival and the film not only won the Academy Award for best Foreign Film, but was responsible for introducing Brazilian music, (especially the Bossa Nova), to the world through composers like Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joao Gilberto, and Luis Bonfa’ which changed what we might now call Latin or Brazilian Jazz forever. It is also said that the Samba and Soccer are the two most important or favorite past times in the country, but you would probably know more about this than I would.

    As a percussionist for many years my interest in this music and background were passionate and I was fortunate enough to participate in a Samba Jazz band as well as a few Latin Jazz ensembles here in the US for many years and this music has blessed my life beyond measure. The dances and cultures that they are connected to draw heavily from mythic forms because of both the European as well as the African cultures; so I wonder if you might share some of your thoughts in these areas if you feel they connect to your topic. (I have provided only a link to a very short clip about the film which may provide some background so as not to distract from the discussion.)

    Again, a very warm welcome and so glad to have you here.