Brazilian dance craze created by young people in Rio’s favelas is declared cultural heritage


In the bustling neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, a vibrant dance style known as passinho has been making waves since the 2000s. Born out of creativity and shared on social media, passinho has become an integral part of Brazil’s cultural landscape, celebrated for its energy and innovation.

Passinho originated with young kids in the favelas, who infused elements from various dance styles like Brazilian funk, break dancing, samba, and capoeira. They experimented with different moves, showcasing their skills at local parties and sharing videos online. As social media platforms like Orkut and YouTube gained popularity, passinho quickly spread across favelas, inspiring a competitive dance scene where youths learned from each other and pushed boundaries.

For many dancers like Walcir de Oliveira, passinho is not just a hobby but a way of life. It provides joy, opportunities for livelihood, and a sense of community. Through passinho battles organized by producer Julio Ludemir, dancers had a platform to showcase their talent and gain recognition. These events also helped passinho transcend its origins in the favelas, reaching mainstream audiences in Brazil and even internationally.

Passinho’s success is attributed to its ability to blend diverse cultural influences, reflecting the concept of “antropofagia” or cultural cannibalism. It absorbs elements from various dance traditions, creating something uniquely Brazilian. Moreover, passinho has served as a positive outlet for youths in favelas, offering an alternative to involvement in crime or unrealistic aspirations.

In March, passinho was officially recognized as an “intangible cultural heritage” by legislators in Rio de Janeiro, underscoring its significance in Brazilian society. The declaration aims to destigmatize funk music and artistic expressions from favelas, highlighting the positive impact of passinho on youth empowerment.

For dancers like Pablo Henrique Goncalves and Nayara Costa, passinho has been transformative. Goncalves, also known as Pablinho Fantástico, found success with passinho battles and later formed a dance group called OZCrias. Similarly, Costa credits passinho for steering her away from a life of crime and now teaches the dance to people of all ages.

As passinho continues to evolve and inspire, its legacy as a cultural phenomenon and a force for social change is assured. With official recognition and ongoing support, passinho is poised to uplift future generations of dancers and continue shaping Brazil’s cultural identity.


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