Dancing Like a Brazilian: Negotiating Authenticity in Australian Samba Performance

Lillian Jean Shaddick


The popularisation of Latin American dance genres in societies outside of Latin America has long contributed to the evolution of new styles. This research looks at such a case: the appropriation of Brazilian ‘samba’ in the context of Australian popular entertainment. Here we see how Australians value ‘authenticity,’ which is largely defined through signifiers of or proximity to ‘Brazilian-ness.’ These notions of authenticity are often caught up with ideas of exoticism as Australians package samba into a commercial product. Ultimately, it is samba’s location in the commercial industry that drives the appropriation of samba and how it is presented in Australia. This article explores the negotiations that Australian samba practitioners make in producing an ‘authentic,’ yet financially viable, samba performance, where sacrificing traditions and simulating authenticity is acceptable in the name of popular performance.

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Popular Entertainment Studies ISSN 1837-9303