One can study everything from classical ballet to belly dancing in Salvador, but most visitors will be interested the truly marvelous dance of the local Afro-Bahian culture. Most of this comes out of or is linked to Bahia’s houses of candomblé…where the roots of the dances of the afoxés and blocos afros are, and the samba.
Afro-Bahian dance (and other dance forms) can be studied at Funceb on Rua da Oração, meters off of the Terreiro de Jesus in Pelourinho. Drummers for these classes are world-class and respected teachers/choreographers like Rosangela Silvestre and Vera Passos make forays back to Bahia after teaching abroad.
Down the street exiting the far side of the terreiro samba de roda is taught by Nalvinha Machado, daughter of Manoel dos Reis Machado, the famous Mestre Bimba. Her classes, which can be individual or in groups, are in the same space her brother Mestre Nenel teaches capoeira.
Roots Bahian samba, from which Rio-style samba is derived, is far less ostentatious and far more subtle than the carnival samba of the Cidade Maravilhosa. In Nalva’s classes long skirts of the type typically worn in the quilombos of the Recôncavo are pulled on (over one’s own clothes) and the hems are rolled up “to keep the mud off”. It’s a lot of fun!
The place is at Rua Maciel de Baixo, 51, just up from the Filhos de Gandhy headquarters. One enters through a hallway lined with paintings for sale (by Luciano, son of the famous Preto Velho who sold cravinho across the street there, now with God) and descends the stairway at the hallway’s end. Anybody interested in classes can just show up and see if Nalvinha’s around. If not, talk to Nenel or maybe his son Simba (em português; Nenel manages a little pidgin English).
Nalvinha’s cel/whatsapp is +55 71 9 9127-7923