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Local dance non-profit, Samba Fogo, returns to the stage with spring concert

A picture of Samba Fogo's spring concert, Still. Dancers in white dresses fill the stage surrounding a living oak tree.
Pete Hansen
Samba Fogo
Dancers at Samba Fogo's spring concert

The rhythmic, booming drumline of Samba Fogo’s spring concert, called Still, cannot be contained. Not even by the walls of the Rose Wagner Theater. Dancers and drummers filled the foyer after the show to keep the party going, dancing and playing among the audience members.

Adorned head-to-toe in sequins and feathers, founder and artistic director of Samba Fogo, Lorin Hansen was among these dancers.

“When I learned that samba existed in the world I just decided I couldn’t live without it and I had to build it here in Utah because it didn’t exist," Hansen said.

Still began with a declaration of four sacred elements; air, fire, water, and earth. The first piece, Return, honors the tradition of Samba and its origins.

“Underneath the Samba tradition is a tradition that has taught me about connecting our bodies with earth elements and the Orisha tradition. It's a spiritual tradition, a religious tradition that is practiced all over the world," Hansen said.

This declaration, paired with the live oak tree that featured center stage, tied the concert to nature.

“That tradition in my life has been a way of keeping nature close to me, keeping this idea of how to embody and connect with nature and natural forces through dance when I’m feeling disconnected," Hansen said.

Samba Fogo has been fighting against that disconnected feeling since its inception. With the added challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic, connection with others has been increasingly important.

“We really combat isolation both in our school outreach and in our community group. I get a lot of feedback about how isolated people feel, especially lately, and how they need each other," Hansen said.

Teaching dance has become a pillar of Samba Fogo’s connection with the community. They teach drumming classes and hold assemblies at elementary schools to share their love for the art of samba.

“Everybody thinks they’re supposed to be perfect and to try something new that you might not be immediately good at is really scary for kids. “We let them be really loud. It's a wild, loud, crazy environment and we encourage that. That's what Carnival is all about. That's the other thing that rhythm can teach us. Within a few minutes, you can go from, ‘This is impossible,’ to ‘Oh hey, I got it,’ and that's an important skill to learn in life because everything seems impossible until we learn how to do it," Hansen said.

Whether performing on a stage or surrounded by nature which inspires them, the drummers and dancers of Samba Fogo radiate positive energy.

“We really try to perform from the inside out," Hansen said, "Just have as much fun out there as you can and the audience will have that much fun with you."

As life settles into a new normal, Samba Fogo is looking forward to a summer filled with camps and unique dance planting projects across the state, including one on April 22, when they will plant the very oak tree they featured in the Still concert.

Anna grew up begging her mom to play music instead of public radio over the car stereo on the way to school. Now, she loves radio and the power of storytelling through sound. While she is happy to report on anything from dance concerts to laughter practice, her main focus at UPR is political reporting. She is studying Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University and wants to work in political communication after she graduates. In her free time, she spends time with her rescue dog Quigley and enjoys rock climbing.