bossa nova art Bossa Nova is a Brazilian dance that followed the creation of Bossa Nova music in the late 1950s. It is roughly translated as meaning 'new wave', 'new way' or 'new beat'.

A very popular and well-known Bossa Nova tune is the Girl from Ipanema or in Portuguese: Garota de Ipanema.

As popular as the music may be, the dance is not widely taught in dance schools. As a result, dancers are puzzled by what dance styles they should use when they hear Bossa Nova music, and sometimes use Rumba, Samba, Merengue and even Night Club Two Step patterns. This can work except that the distinct Latin Jazz feel of the music calls for its own style.

The advantage of knowing basic Bossa Nova steps is that once dancers know how to dance the basic steps to the mood of the music, they can then incorporate moves from other dances that fit Bossa Nova's mood and rhythm. Alternatively, dancers can use the concepts behind the very useful Bossa Nova basic steps in other dances.

There is a Bossa Nova line dance as there is a Samba line dance. Samba and Bossa Nova are both Brazilian dances.

Bossa Nova Moves and Steps

In one version of Bossa Nova dancing, the feel and count is similar to social Rumba - with the Cuban hip action replaced with a smooth hip sway or roll and with the addition of frequent taps with the foot extended.

The chasse basic is three steps to the leader's left (step-together-step), a tap step, three steps to the right (step-together-step) and a tap step. The follower mirrors the step starting to the right.

The walking basic is similar and is danced as three steps forward (for the leader starting with, say, the left foot), tap, three steps back and tap. The follower mirrors the step starting with back steps.

The forward/back basic is (for the leader) step forward (either foot, say left), together and tap with the other foot and back to the original position, step together, step back, tap and forward. When this forward/back basic is repeated, it becomes the walking basic described above.

A variation of the forward/back basic is (for the leader) left foot step forward, right foot together tap, right foot step back, left foot together tap, left foot step back, right foot together tap, right foot step forward, left foot together tap - and repeat.

Note: At this time there are no videos available that demonstrate the Bossa Nova dance to our satisfaction.


Vinicius de Moraes, Antonio Carlos Jobim, João GilbertoWith lyrics by Vinícius de Moraes, composition by Antonio Carlos Jobim, and singing by João Gilberto, Chega de Saudade (translated as No More Blues), released in 1958, is credited as being the first Bossa Nova recording. The three are seen together on the left.

Chega de Saudade album cover Initially, Chega de Saudade was recorded on Elizete Cardoso's album Canção do Amor Demais. However, it was the later release by João Gilberto on an album by the same name, that brought Bossa Nova to public attention.

The 1959 motion picture Orfeu Negro or Black Orpheus cemented Bossa Nova's popularity in Brazil. The movie was based on a play by Vinícius de Moraes and the music was composed by Antonio Carlos Jobim. The lyrics for one the songs, Manhã de Carnaval was written by Luiz Bonfá.

The record label Verve, US jazz saxophonist Stan Getz and guitarist Charlie Byrd added to Bossa Nova's popularity in North America with their 1963 release of Jazz Samba. The music was recorded at All Souls' Unitarian Church in Washington, DC on February 13, 1962. The album contained two Jobim compositions: Desafinado and Samba De Uma Nota So (One Note Samba)

Getz/Gilberto album cover However, it was the 1964 release of the album Getz/Gilberto by Verve that made Bossa Nova a household name Astrud Gilberto in North America while becoming one of the best selling jazz albums ever. Getz/Gilberto spent 96 weeks in the charts and won four Grammys. Stan Getz played the sax and João Gilberto played the guitar. Jobim is featured on the piano. Jobim also wrote most of the music.

The first song on the album The Girl from Ipanema, was sung by João and his wife Astrud Gilberto (seen on the right), making her professional debut. The song won a Grammy, and is today one of the most recognizable Bossa Nova songs anywhere.

The Girl From Ipanema

The story of the transformation of Vinícius de Moraes' composition Menina que Passa (The Girl Who Passes By) into the song we recognize today as The Girl from Ipanema or Garota de Ipanema is now part of Bossa Nova folklore.

Ipanema BeachThe story goes that Moraes composed the words to the song in Petrópolis, a township near Rio, while Jobim composed the melody at his home in Rua Barão da Torre, in the southern Rio de Janeiro neighbourhood of Ipanema. The beach of Ipanema (seen here on the right) is adjacent to Copacabana Beach. However, Ipanema has the reputation of being a more exclusive neighbourhood. Indeed, it is one of the most expensive places to buy a home in Rio.

Moraes and Jobim patronized the Veloso Cafe in Ipanema. Sitting at the cafe, they frequently saw a slender, stunning, fifteen-year-old girl pass by - much to the delight of the cafe's patrons who expressed their admiration of her beauty with sighs and whistles.

Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes PintoHer name was Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto (today Helô Pinheiro). She lived on Ipanema's Montenegro Street. Today, Montenegro Street is called Vinicius de Moraes Street, and the Veloso Bar has been named A Garota de Ipanema.

Heloísa became the girl from Ipanema in Moraes and Jobin's composition which took its final form in the winter on 1962. The English lyrics were later written by Norman Gimbel, the opening lines of which are:

"Tall and tan and young and lovely, The girl from Ipanema goes walking,
And when she passes each one she passes goes "a-a-ah!
When she walks she's like a samba that, Swings so cool and sways so gentle,
That when she passes each one she passes goes "a-a-ah!"

Girl from Ipanema

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