Brazilians offer community at ‘Forró For All Toronto’ dance classes

By Krishika Jethani –

A group of Brazilian community members are offering ‘Forró For All Toronto’ dance classes downtown to cure their homesickness as a result of migrating to Toronto.

Instructor Maristela CHaddad says it began with University of Toronto students who felt homesick and wanted to gather the Brazilian community. As the group became bigger, they decided to go outside of U of T and found more dance instructors. 

What started as a small gathering has now evolved into a traditional dance class with talented instructors. ‘Forró For All Toronto’ offers classes for $8 on Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m. at 115 The Esplanade across from St. Lawrence Market.

CHaddad said the classes are open to everyone, regardless of whether you are part of the Brazilian community. No experience is necessary.

Attendees “can learn about the culture, the music, and our costumes. We share the experiences of living abroad because a lot of people are not Canadians but rather immigrants.”

Three different levels – newcomers, beginners and intermediates – learn different steps in cycles of 13 weeks. “Once they feel confident about the beat of the music, [newcomers] can go to the beginners or intermediate level,” says CHaddad.

After each class, the group gathers for a big circle meeting. “They have the chance to interact with different levels and then practice what they have learned,” says CHaddad.

Nesrin Akdemir, who started as a student, has become a volunteer for Forró.

“This is where I learned Forró. Because I love this culture, music and dance so much, I wanted to volunteer and see if we can grow this movement,” says Akdemir.

As a non-Brazilian, Akdemir “immediately” felt welcomed when she joined the group, which is also a social gathering to learn about Brazilian traditions.

“No one is committed to coming every week; it depends on their own motivation. If you want to come to just dance for an hour you can,” says Akdemir. “Afterwards, quite often, we go somewhere to socialize.”

More information is on the ‘Forró For All Toronto’ Instagram (@forroforalltoronto) and Facebook group (Forró For All Toronto).