Passinho: Little Step, Big Change


Do you like to dance? Liz Waid and Ryan Geertsma look at a new, popular dance from Brazil: the Passinho.

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Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I’m Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

It is a hot night in late spring. A large crowd has gathered together. They are in a northern part of Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil. Lights shine down on a large dance floor. Loud music plays. One young man begins dancing on the raised stage. Everyone is watching and cheering. The young man quickly moves his ankles. He turns his feet side to side. He continues this movement as he takes small steps around the dance floor. As he steps, he moves his hips, arms and body with the beat of the music. The young man is dancing the passinho. And tonight, he is competing in a passinho dance competition. The Passinho Battle!

Voice 2 

The passinho is a new, popular dance in Brazil. Many young adults are expressing their positive creativity and skill through this new dance form. Today’s Spotlight is on the Passinho.

Voice 1 

Passinho means ‘little step’ in Portuguese. People may call it little step, but it is having a big influence on Brazilian dance culture. And this influence has happened quickly. People only began dancing the passinho around 2007 or 2008. It started in the favelas. The favelas are poor areas on the north side of Rio. These areas have struggled with gang violence and illegal drugs.

Voice 2 

In fact, the passinho grew out of Rio’s illegal gang and drug culture. It developed from an existing dance culture called funk carioca. Funk carioca music and dance often concentrates on negative themes - like illegal drugs, violence and sex. However, the passinho has moved away from these negative messages. The music concentrates more on creating complex rhythms and beats. The passinho has become a more technical kind of dance. Dancers perform complex moves - all based on the ‘little step’ movement and the musical beats.

Voice 1 

For many young adults, the passinho is a way to escape violent gang and drug culture. The passinho gives them another choice. Before, if they wanted to dance, they were limited to the funk carioca dance culture. And this culture was influenced by illegal gangs and drugs. Now with the passinho, they can choose to express and develop their skill in positive ways. Jackson Carvalho Franco is a competitive passinho dancer. He told the Rio Times news organization,

Voice 3 

“When I started dancing in 2009, I would go to the gang funk dance parties. On one side of me, I would see a man smoking drugs. On the other side of me, I would see a man with a gun. Now, with the passinho dance parties, you can go out with normal people and just dance. It is really cool…It is not like before.  Before, children would see criminals and think ‘I want to be like him.’ No! Now they respect passinho dancers and say they want to become dancers.”

Voice 2 

The passinho combines movements from many different kinds of dance - funk, traditional Brazilian and even global dance. And with its new music and movements, it has become its own art form. Emilio Domingo spent a year making a film about the passinho. He explained to the BBC news organization,

Voice 4 

“The dancers take in everything they see and they change it to produce something completely new.”

Voice 1 

The passinho has spread very quickly for a new dance form. One of the main reasons for this is the internet. On video sharing websites, the passinho has spread around the favelas, Rio, Brazil and the world. A lot of young passinho dancers record short films of themselves and their dance moves. Then, they share the videos on websites like YouTube.

Voice 2 

The most famous passinho video was put on the internet in 2008. This video is known as Passinho Foda. It is not an expert video. And the dancers are not really performing. Instead, they are just having fun together. Over 4 million people have watched this simple video!

Voice 1 

Pablo Henrique Goncalves, or Pablinho, is a 20 year old young man from Rio. Today, he is a competitive passinho dancer. But he remembers the first time he saw the Passinho Foda video. He told the BBC,

Voice 5 

“When I first saw that video on YouTube, I thought ‘how amazing!’ I was seriously interested in the passinho. I was amazed at the men’s skill and by how many people watched their video. I wanted to learn to do them same or better.”

Voice 2 

And that is what Pablinho has done. Today, he is one of the best passinho dancers in Rio. And Pablinho confirms that passinho is a positive influence. He told the BBC,

Voice 5 

“The passinho is giving young adults here a choice to stop doing drugs and to dance.”

Voice 1 

The internet is not just helping spread the passinho. It is also forming it. Passinho dancers watch other dance videos on the internet too. They see dance moves from all over the world. Julio Ludemir organizes passinho dance events. He told the BBC,

Voice 6 

“Now, the favelas are getting globalized. These boys are looking at what is happening in London, in Africa, in Paris. Through social media websites, they are taking their dance to the world. And they are bringing the world to their dance.”

Voice 2 

The passinho can be a competitive dance. In Rio, there are official passinho events - like Passinho Battle. Competitions like Passinho Battle provide a place for passinho dancers to show their best dance moves. They help dancers to be proud of what they do. Judges choose the best dancers at these competitions. And some winners become professional dancers. People will pay them to dance the passinho in shows, films, television commercials and more. In this way, the passinho is changing lives. It is providing a new way for these young adults to support themselves and their families.

Voice 1 

But not everyone is a competitive passinho dancer. Many people dance the passinho for fun. They dance in their homes, with their friends and at parties. Jackson Carvalho Franco is a dancer. He told the Rio Times news organization,

Voice 3 

“The passinho gives young people, both boys and girls, in the communities a great opportunity. They can be good at something and have fun!”

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Robin Basselin. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again and read it on the Internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Passinho: Little Step, Big Change.”

Voice 1  

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

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Question:

Have you seen the passinho dance? Is there a popular dance in your culture?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Photoshopper
said on June 18, 2014

I watched “Passinho” videos. Music and dances are awful. It’s just random movements from different dance styles and often just ordinary dance movements.

Avatar Spotlight
Udo
said on June 20, 2014

Thank you.

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on August 20, 2019

Hahaha… Drugs in Brazil, like in the most part of the world, are much more serious trouble then you think about. The drugs traffic move billions of dollars and thousands of gangsters, with strong types of equipment like weapons, planes, ships, trucks, and cars… Inside of this, there is the great and inquestionable power of money and, consequently, the corruption rides freely… A simple form of dance, unknown out of the poors neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro can not modify anything. I live in Brasilia, and I like dance, but I never heard a word on “passinho”...
Thank you so much for the good and instructive text.

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on August 22, 2019

From .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) ( Severino Ramos )
To spotlight program
Subject answer the questions below
Date Thursday 22, August 2019

Dear Robin Basselin, Michio Ozaki, Liz Waid, Ryan Geertsma, and rest of the spotlight team:

Thank you for producing more one great and important article for us Brazilian people and other people around the World.
Question 1 - Have you seen the passinho dance?
Answer 1 - Yes, I have. I have seen the passinho dance only on internet and television. Also, I have seen many bad News on television about deaths, violent accidents, and bad behavour of the drug addicted that happen in the passinho dance events in Rio de Janeiro here in Brazil.
Question 2 - Is there a popular dance in your culture?
Answer 2 - Yes, it is. Passinho dance and passinho dance events is very comum in the shanty towns/ Favelas’ Rio de Janeiro.
Your regards,
Severino Ramos
God bless you!