Olá, Amazing Hoop Racers!

Your first stop on the race will be to virtually join us here in beautiful Brasil! We are organizing a very special hoopjam at to welcome all of you at Gasômetro, here in Porte Alegre, southern Brazil.

Porto Alegre (pronounced ˈpoɾtu aˈlɛɡɾi] means “Happy Harbour” in Portuguese and it is Brazil’s fourth largest metropolitan area with 3,979,561 inhabitants. It is the capital city of the southernmost Brazilian state, Rio Grande do Sul, a land of awesome barbecue and breathtaking sights. Porto Alegre is one of the top cultural, political and economic centers of Brazil and it was founded in 1772 by immigrants from the Azores, Portugal. In the late 19th century, the city received many immigrants from other parts of the world, particularly Germany, Italy, and Poland.

Our city lies on the eastern bank of the Guaíba River, which is actually not a river but a lake. Go figure, right? Still, a rose is a rose by any other name, and the Guaíba is the spot where five different rivers converge to form Lagoa dos Patos (Lagoon of the Ducks), a giant freshwater lagoon navigable by even the largest of ships. This five-river junction has become an important port as well as a chief industrial and commercial center of Brasil. The port is important for transporting local produce including plums, peaches, rice and cassava grown on rural smallholdings.

Hula Hooping in Brasil has been gaining popularity, slowly but surely, over the past few years, and like the contemporary hooping movement all over the globe, this growth has its roots in the amazing powers of the World Wide Web. More and more hoopjams are beginning to sprout here and there, and the mainstream audience has shown increased interest in hoop dance as a practice. Part of this is because of the hard work of BamBamBam, along with all of it’s partners and ambassadors throughout the country, which makes us oh so proud. 🙂 Brasil has had World Hoop Day celebrations since 2009, and this year will be the first time with multiple events across the country! In short, Brasil has a smaller hooping community, but one that has been growing bigger and better, both online and offline.

One of the things that Brasil is most known for is our incredible love of music and our incredible love of dancing. For your Vista Point video challenge we want you to bring a taste of Brasil to your hoop dance with the Samba. Samba is a Brazilian rhythm originating in Bahia and Rio De Janeiro, with roots in the music played with drums by the slaves brought from Africa.  Although it is genuinely Brazilian, it’s also the result of cultures coming together. Samba is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brasil and the Brazilian Carnival. But throughout the year, samba is written and performed among friends, in a circle (actually there is one variation of Samba called Samba de Roda, loosely translated as “Samba in a Circle”). And speaking of circles, get ready to spin! In Brasil, we say that if you don’t like the samba, there’s either something wrong with your head or you’re ill in your feet.

So, are you ready to get down with the Samba? Here are a few basic moves to begin with:

Once you are dancing the Samba, it will be time to add your hoop to the dance. For this Amazing Hoop Race roadblock we want you to create a Samba Hoop Dance video featuring both members of your team together. Samba attire typically includes feathers for girls and hats for men, but this varies drastically from one generation to the next or according to the context. Girls typically show a lot of skin, with high heels and tail feathers, while men tend to dress fancier, with pants, a t-shirt, fancy shoes and maybe a blazer (the t-shirt traditionally has horizontal stripes) and sometimes a hat. Little umbrellas are used in the dance in certain parts of the country, namely Recife. In Bahia, there is a tradition of Baianas, who are generally older ladies who spin wearing big white dresses and turbans. For the Carnival Parades, the costumes are a bit more intricate, with feathers and huge props, generally evoking historical or nature-related themes. Keep in mind, however, that this is a challenge of creativity, so nothing is written in stone. As long as you can impress the judges with your performance, you could be wearing a sack of beans for all we care. Speaking of beans, feel free to include other references to Brasil in your costume. We’re the land of rice and beans, bangles, beads, feathers and tropical fruit. Don’t be shy. Get wild. Carmem Miranda did, and it totally paid off for her.

Now, when comes to your choice of song, it’s worth remembering that the highly percussive Samba heard in the Carnival parades (known as Samba Enredo) is not the only flavor out there. As a rich popular tradition in constant evolution, Samba has many facets, and it’s a good idea to do a little homework before settling on your song. Some of our favorite Samba music artists are Demônios da Garoa, Noel Rosa, Cartola, Martinho da Vila, Zeca Pagodinho, Clara Nunes, Leci Brandão, Noite Ilustrada, João Nogueira, Dorival Caymmi, Beth Carvalho, Jovelina Pérola Negra, Fundo de Quintal, and Nelson Cavaquinho.

What is important to us as your Brazilian judges for this leg of the race is that you can embody the joy and playfulness that is at the heart of the samba rhythm into your dancing, so as to seamlessly integrate recognizable samba elements into your hooping while having FUN. If you’re having fun, chances are we will too. We will also be paying attention to your musicality, expressive movement, integration with your partner, and gracefulness. Pay close attention to Hooping.org’s Ten Easy Hooping Video Tips because we want to see you and enjoy your Samba hoop dance. We want to feel like you are here with us in Brasil when we watch!

Your Amazing Hoop Race Brazillian video challenge must be under five minutes long and it must be posted to YouTube no later than 9pm PST on Sunday, October 16th, with this exact title: “Hooping.org Amazing Hoop Race Brazil”. When you post your video, don’t forget to email the link to Philo using your Hooping.org account so we know when you have reached the pit stop and can award points accordingly. So, time to shake some booty and have fun with your Samba Hoop Dance racers! And Welcome to Brasil!

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