Samba is known as the Brazilian Waltz because of it's rise/fall and sway characteristics which are somewhat similar to the Waltz. The emphasis of Samba is on the downward movement rather than on the upward movement as in Waltz.
The sway of Samba is a pendulum type of action both front to back and side to side. It is caused by the ball step where the heel does not touch the floor. This makes one leg longer than the other thus causing the pendulum effect.
The rise and fall action is called the Samba Pulse (a spring-like knee action of the steps).
Other body actions are Latin Motion (rotating hip movement- common to all Latin dances) and the Samba Tic (a pelvic tilt) initiated just before the "One" beat in the music. If someone came up to you and unexpectedly pretended to punch you in the stomach your reaction would be to pull in your mid-section which causes your heels to come off the floor. This is a Samba Tic. Samba, as in all Latin dances, is danced from the ribcage down.
The musical timing of Samba is very important. It is usually written in cut time (2/4 timing). There are 3 steps to 2 counts of music (a Samba measure or Samba element).
It is stated as: "Ah, One, Ah, Two; Ah, One, Ah Two". However, it is easier to learn Samba by first using: "One, Ah, Two; One, Ah, Two". The count "One, Ah, Two" are weight changes: Left, Right, Left; (leaders part). Learn the foot pattern first. Example:The Forward Basic Pattern: (footwork only)
When the footwork is automatic you can then add the "Ah" before the "One". This "Ah' is a body only movement, the "Samba Tic" (pelvic tilt).The Forward Basic Pattern: (body & footwork)
Samba is considered to be an advanced dance because of the speed of the music and the body action required to dance it.