Take a Dance Journey
From 1501 until 1866 when slavery was abolished, nearly 5 million Africans were taken to Brazil and sold into slavery.
They brought with them their cultural roots — dance, music, cuisine, religion, storytelling — and greatly influenced the colonial Portuguese society.
Brazil presently has the second largest population of people of African descent in the world — the first being Nigeria — and their impact on the development of Brazilian culture is indelible.
But its influence reaches far beyond its shores: The Brazilian martial art, Capoeira, which was developed by Angolan slaves in Brazil during the 17th century, is noted by some to have heavily shaped the development of breakdancing in the U.S.
You can learn more about this rich blend of cultures in our Afro-Brazilian Dance and Samba class, which takes you on a journey through Afro-Brazilian dance, music, folklore, history, and more.
Artist and teacher Dora Oliveira has been sharing her love for dance for 40 years, teaching the vibrant styles unique to Brazil to communities around the world.
How long have you been teaching?
I’ve been teaching dance for over 40 years.
What classes do you teach for Seattle Central?
I’m teaching Afro-Brazilian Dance and Samba.
What's your educational & professional background?
I earned a BA in dance from the Federal University of Bahia Brazil in 1991, and I also hold a technical nursing degree in Brazil. I completed a BA in childhood education at North Seattle College in 2017 and have a certification as a Nurse Assistant from South Seattle College.
I enjoy making connections between art disciplines and have always been involved in helping to empower and build strong communities through art.
For example, I’ve worked in community centers teaching free dance classes for those who can’t afford it, and I’ve promoted flea markets and events to help community members and neighbors get to know each other.
My work as a nurse in hospital and private clinics and as a preschool teacher also provide me with experiences that enrich my approach to teaching.
What do you enjoy the most about teaching your classes at Seattle Central?
I enjoy meeting new people while exchanging and sharing cultural experiences.
Tell us about an inspirational teaching moment.
I love it when students find their momentum through dance.
It is very gratifying when they make the connection between body and soul! Then they find the true meaning of dance.
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Caetano Veloso
- Dorival Caymmi
- Aretha Franklin (especially You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman)
- Elvis Costello
- The Beatles
- Carlos Santana
- Love Me Tender – Elvis Presley
- Better When I’m Dancin’ – Meghan Trainor
- Brazil – I love visiting friends and family!
Would you rather have a tiger tail or tiger stripes?
Neither! I am happy with who I am 🙂