On a sunny Thursday evening in Jardim da Estrela in Lisbon, I, Sonja Graf met with Dor from Jaffa to find out a bit more about the forró community in Israel. Dor is training to become a body psychotherapist and he travelled from Israel to Lisbon for four months to soak up as much forró as he can. He discovered forró a little more than one year ago and like most of us when we first found forró, he’s totally in love with this dance, and is currently taking classes six times a week and going to every party he can find. As I was unaware of an existing forró community in Israel, I wanted to know out more:

(from ForróLetters #5)

Tell us a little bit about forró in Israel!

So, there is a community of forró in Israel, built from mostly Israeli’s who learned forró. Some of them are Israelis born in Israel and some of them are Brazilians who live in Israel, and brought their cultures like forró, samba and other Brazilian music. The community consists of a few dozen that are really active in the community but another few hundred who know how to dance forró.

Who started the community in Israel?

I would say there are four main characters who lead the forró events and teach. They are Mai Grafi Halevy, Omri Makdasi, Geffen Ben Yossef and Noa Peled.

Where is the community based?

It is based, I would say, in Tel Aviv but there are other cities which have some small forró events and also sometimes there is a forró weekend in the north of israel by the Sea of Galilee and in Pardes-Hana.

Are there regular classes?

I don’t know what is happening in Tel Aviv at the moment but usually there is one class every two weeks. Sometimes there are two levels, forró zero and “progressors” and after class there is usually a party. The community is still young, around four years old, but getting bigger.

What bands do you have in Israel?

There are three bands in Israel: Baticumpé, Quatro no forró and Brasil for all. They are made of a mix of Brazilians and Israelis.

When do you return to Israel and what are you going to bring back to the forró community from here?

I will join the effort of promoting forro so more people could enjoy as well and I could dance more. I really like that many people here promote it by leading classes, making events, playing on the street. I would dance every day there if I could!

It’s really fun to speak with you Dor, because I get to see how a forró fanatic is born!

Yeah, it’s quite nice because I get the same feeling with forró here in Lisbon as I do in Israel. When I left, forró there was feeling really friendly and family like. And when I came here, after a few times of dancing with the people in Lisbon, it felt the same! There is the same thread going through every community, I guess in their own special way, but there is something very much alike in all forró communities.

What do you think that “thread” is? How would you describe it?

I would say it’s listening to fun, sometimes emotional, soothing and exciting music and sharing the same joy of dancing intimately and freely with other people. I really feel like sometimes I float! I really float, if it’s a good dance!

Ok, but what makes a good dance good? What makes it a “floaty dance?”

I don’t know yet. I guess it’s built on the connection in both people’s willingness to have fun. To not be too serious about it. To laugh about making mistakes when dancing, for me, I really enjoy the fact that the dance is changing all the time and I can switch from leading to being the follower, so I have some people I can do that with. And I guess there’s all the physical things like oxytocin and when you hug someone. I think it’s the combination of all that. And that’s why I can do it for hours!

What makes you the forró addict that you are?

That’s a good question because it combines my passion for dance but also the different aspects of my life as well. What really changed here is that I always felt that as a leader I am 100% responsible for the dance and it was really similar to how I thought about life in some ways. And here I really came to understand that it’s really 50 / 50 and that we share the responsability for our dance. Also being a man and being comfortable to move my hips, that was new for me! I really feel that I matured just by dancing, something in me really changed in my perspective.

And how do we find out where to go to forró in Israel?

There is a facebook group called We Love Forró Israel and a page so if someone is coming, they can get in touch there. We also have a whatsapp group in PT/EN/HE for updates as well. I can connect anyone to the whatsapp group, send me a message.

Thanks so much Dor, I really enjoyed learning more about the forró scene in Israel!

What about you? Have you already danced in Israel? Share your experience in the comments! We love to hear from you!