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West Valley City Journal

Samba Fogo is ‘a celebration of self’ through dance says director

May 08, 2023 03:47PM ● By Linda Steele

Samba Fogo group dancing in red dresses. (Courtesy David Terry)

Lorin Hansen, the director of Samba Fogo, started her journey into Samba Fogo Brazilian dance while studying modern dance at the University of Utah. She started dating Mason, her husband. Mason was working at the dance department at University of Utah. He joined a drum group that one of Hansen’s professors started. It was a drum group to teach dancers about rhythm. Hansen had never touched a drum, but she had some piano experience and she did gymnastics. She was mostly a dancer, but she ended up joining with Mason. 

It was in 2001 that Hansen first saw Samba dance. In 2003, the professor that started the drum group asked Hansen and Mason to take over the drum group so he could retire. There was no dance component at that time, but with Hansen being a dancer they started to add dance into the mix. She was running the Samba class for seven years, then in 2009 she got nonprofit status officially on paper with the state. 

Hansen and the drum group ended up going to California to study Brazilian drumming, and that is where Hansen first saw Brazilian dance. 

“It captured my heart in the Redwood forest,” she said. 

This is a camp that she has returned to every August for the past 20 years in the Redwood forest. The dance floor is outside, with no mirrors and that is where she learned Samba in a natural and open place. 

At the camp she meets and gets to know a wealth of teachers. She has over a 100 music and dance teachers who have guided Lorin and taught her and she has been to Brazil four times to study. In 2018 and 2019 she entered a Samba contest in Los Angeles to study at the International Samba Congress. It was called the Female Malandro contest. Malandro Samba is a male style of Samba, but this was a contest for females to dance male style in a suit and fedora. Hansen won the contest in 2018 and 2019 winning two airline tickets to Brazil as a prize. Her Samba group won a group contest at the female malandro contest. Lorin stayed in Brazil for six weeks in 2018 and seven weeks in 2019 and studied Samba dance. She came home in 2020 and hasn't flown to Brazil since, because of Covid. 

With Hansen having a background in ballet, gymnastics and modern dance she found a whole other way of moving and knowing the body. 

“Perceiving dance's role in society I think is a completely different perspective of what dance is, and what it can do for us. For me it was this magical world. We call Samba a celebration of self. It taught me how to look in the mirror and gave me permission to celebrate myself and bolden myself. It taught me that I have a very excitable beast inside of me. Samba released that beast and released a loud excitement with loud drums, and the music is fast. I never encountered that part of myself until Samba brought it out in me,” Hansen said. 

Samba Fogo goes into five different school districts to teach. They do schoolwide assemblies with two dancers and three drums and talk about the language and history of Samba. They play different rhythms and bring costumes for the students to see and get students and teachers up dancing. They do guest classes, or residencies and work with the students and then they are ready to perform. 

Hansen plants organic gardens and trees and she realized, “when you plant you are dancing and repeating movements, you can choreograph those movements,” she said. They do a tree planting ceremony for this event. “When you are pushing the dirt, digging the hole, and planting the tree you choreograph dance,” Lorin said. 

May 15 is the “Plant Your Feet” performance at the Tracy Aviary in Liberty Park. The classes are held at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W. 3100 South. Guest artists from Brazil teach classes for the Plant Your Feet project. 

For more information go to: [email protected] or 801-520-0444 λ