As with many samba groups outside Brasil, MaSamba began as a bateria or drumming group. However, we quickly realised the importance of dance within the samba scene in Brasil, and that many people would prefer to dance samba than play it!
However, in Ireland in the 1990s, there was little access to genuine samba dance, and our initial collaborations were with Fernanda Amaral of a group called Patua Dance from Cardiff. Fernanda travelled to Ireland to deliver a couple of occasional workshops, and then collaborated with us on our St. Patrick’s Day parade entry for 2004.
Also, at that time, we met up with Vanessa Coelho, a dancer from Curitiba, who had danced in the Sao Paulo carnival. Vanessa was our first ever passista and hogged a lot of media attention wherever we travelled!
This began a process of us promoting samba dance within the festival scene in Ireland, and slowly but surely, dancers became a standard element of MaSamba shows.
From 2005, we have been working with our current dance Director, Kelly Baldonado, and Kelly has developed our appreciation of dance and the many styles of dance found in Brasil. Kelly was the undoubted star of the 2008 St. Patrick’s Parade in Dublin, appearing in nine newspapers, and having two follow-up features written on her for national newspapers.
In recent times, we have paraded with up to 80 dancers, and rarely take to the streets without at least a couple of passistas!