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Valley Journals

New Class Shimmies into Ogden Dance Scene

Jul 06, 2016 09:27AM ● By Bryan Scott

Britta Stumpp lifts her leg as she demonstrates technique to her Brazilian Samba class on Monday, April 18 at the Eccles Community Art Center. Stumpp runs six-week sessions for her classes. – Travis Barton

By Travis Barton | travis@mycityjournals.com


With the Rio Olympics on the horizon, Brazilian style dancing will be coming to the global forefront. 

And that’s exactly what Britta Stumpp said she hopes to happen. 

Stumpp recently started a Brazilian Samba class at the Eccles Community Art Center teaching Samba along with a few other Afro-Brazilian dances and some contemporary fusion. 

“It’s not ballroom and you don’t have to get naked,” Stumpp said hoping to remove any confusion regarding what her samba class entails. 

Brazilian Samba is most often seen at Carnaval, a celebration in Brazil which marks the beginning of Lent, but its roots came from West Africa when people were brought through the middle passage via slave trade. Its style has morphed over time into one of the most popular dances in Brazil that is today. 

“Samba in Brazil is like the national pastime, there’s football and there’s samba with Carnaval as the Super Bowl of samba,” Stumpp said. 

Stumpp’s love for samba came about after seeing Samba Fogo, based out of Salt Lake City, perform at the Utah Arts Festival in 2010. 

“I was blown away and I thought ‘I need to check that out,’” Stumpp said. 

As it turned out, Stumpp had Thursday nights free when Samba Fogo was doing classes. Little did she know, it turned out to be a master’s level workshop she went to the first time. 

“I had taken African dancing classes so I thought ‘how hard could this Afro-Brazilian stuff be,’” Stumpp said. “I stood out like a sore thumb, but I had the best time.” 

Stumpp eventually moved to Oregon with her husband where she continued to take classes for a few years before they returned to Ogden. They also returned with a two-year-old son and Stumpp said lots of people can’t travel down to Salt Lake every Thursday.  

“I thought it would be really cool to get some samba here in Ogden because aside from Samba Fogo, there really isn’t a whole lot to be had,” Stumpp said. 

Having already taught some classes at the Eccles Community Art Center, Stumpp asked if she could start a Brazilian Samba class. Stumpp started her second session of classes on April 18. She will start her next session on July 25. 

Stumpp said the difficulties she went through learning the dance has helped her to become a quality teacher of the craft. 

“Because I struggled a great deal as a student to pick up the steps so in the way I taught myself to do it, I think it translates to my students,” Stumpp said. 

The dancing style, Stumpp said, carries an uplifting spirit about it. 

“It just lifts your energy up, I don’t know how else to describe it,” Stumpp said. “Of all the dance styles I’ve ever taken, the Brazilian stuff is where it’s at for me.” 

Students of Stumpp’s class said they love the feelings they get doing a lot of the exercises during the instruction. 

It’s an evident energy when seeing the dancers at Carnaval, but Stumpp said it’s important to remember that Samba doesn’t require extravagance. 

“Most of the time when people are doing samba in Brazil, they are fully clothed, the Samba Queens is just for Carnaval,” Stumpp said. “So I think people get the misconception that you have to be with huge feathers, half naked and in high heels to do this and it’s not that either.” 

Classes consist of a warm-up for flexibility followed by drills and choreography ending with a cool down.  

The class is set up to run in six-week sessions on Mondays from 6:40 – 7:40 p.m. 

“I love it, I love the energy, I love the music and I love that I get to share it with others,” Stumpp said. 

To find out more about the Brazilian Samba class at Eccles Community Art Center, go to http://ogden4arts.org/class-schedule/.