Music and dance are very basic necessities of life. We breathe, we eat, we create music and we dance.

Samba Fogo is a non profit organization of drummers and dancers that perform and teach Brazilian-style Samba. This group not only brings these basic necessities vibrantly to life, but they have also created a community focused around their art.

“No one talks about the community that has been created around Samba, I have my friends and owe my dance career to Samba,” said Christopher Peddelord, who is a part of Samba Fogo.

These loud drums would be right at home in a place like Central Park, where any passerby can pause and listen, or even shake their hips to the rhythmic beating resonating through them.

The drummers described the bass drum, called the Surdu, as the heartbeat of Samba. As the Surdu thumps it makes its way to your heart, and the thudding of your heart becomes the drum.

“It may look like we’re messing around up here, but the drummers are actually following the dancers, there is a conversation between them,” said David Darais, also a part of Samba Fogo.

And that conversation between the dancers and drummers was thrilling to watch. Even as a fair share of the audience joined in the dancing, the drummers kept the dialogue strong.

While there were some audience members who seemed to know all the right steps, there were a few whose steps weren’t so gracefully displayed, but their exertion of courage in stepping forward was quite admirable. Even a few campus faculty, like Phil Gordon and Alex Caldiero bounded up front and swayed to the potent pulse.

Not only does Samba Fogo perform, but as afore mentioned, they teach and they welcome anyone to join them.

“We don’t just exchange dancing, but we exchange energy and knowledge,” said Joana Darc Nichols, a dancer with Samba Fogo.

The education program is one of the biggest draws to this group. They are dedicated bringing their art to everyone, whether it’s through their performances, but more importantly through their educating. Many had no musical experience before they started.

“At a basic level, anyone can start and have success and have some fun,” said Kyle, a member of the group. “I started because I love learning new things, but after a while I usually get bored, but with music, and particularly with this Brazilian-influenced music and its complexities, it kept it challenging and fun.”

For those interested in learning more about this intoxicating art, visit Samba Fogo’s website at And for those inclined to jump into this inviting community, come to the Utah Arts Alliance on Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m., and join in their rhythmic tutelage.