Two young samba dancers from Rio de Janeiro share their inspiring stories

Two young samba dancers from Rio de Janeiro share their inspiring stories

Rodrigo Marques teaches at Casa de Dança Carlinhos de Jesús. He has been touring with Diogo Nogueira’s band for several years. Here’s how samba changed his life:
“Dance chose me. It’s as if dance was flying by like an eagle in the sky, spotted me in the middle of chaos and picked me up with its beak. Dance is not just movement; dance is energy, art, conspiration!
I grew up in a shanty made of wood and mud in the favela, it was not an easy life, but it was just normal for me. I was never much into sports, dancing was more my thing! I’d win the Michael Jackson and lambada contests at school, and as 10-year olds, me and my friends were the attraction of the funk events.
When I was 11, my sister took me to a ballroom social. I went up the stairs to the venue and found myself in a whole new universe: Everyone was dressed up, and I in my funk-style bermudas! Some younger people were dancing samba de gafieira. And that’s when Cupid’s arrow struck my heart: It was love at first sight! Never before had I heard about dança de salão1), but now I felt this incredible urge to dance samba, and life was conspiring in my favor: I was admitted to Rachel Mesquita’s class as the only kid, and I shared the room with 35 adult couples.

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