Samba na Boca da Mata

Samba na Boca da Mata (Samba in the Forest) is a project spearheaded by Fabinho Soares, a teacher and performer of cavalo marinho and maracatu rural. He is originally from Condado, in the interior of Pernambuco, and he teaches and performs in Recife and other areas of Pernambuco and Paraíba. He aims to spread knowledge and respect of his cultural heritage through his work.

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Samba na Boca da Mata é uma iniciativa autônoma que junta o desejo com a vontade de fazer. Queremos sambar, prosear, cantar e compartilhar nossos saberes no Maracatu, no Cavalo Marinho, na Capoeira, nas brincadeiras, com o que de alimento a terra nos dá. Nos fortalecer pelas nossas mãos dadas! Pela nossa pisada, pela nossa palavra.

Stay tuned to this page for updates on the project!


Cavalo marinho and maracatu rural are traditions from the rural Zona da Mata in the states of Pernambuco and Paraíba in Brazil. These interweavings of dance, music, and storytelling express the mestiço (mixed) identities of the region, where indigenous, African, and European cultures have crossed for over 400 years. Cavalo marinho is a 6+ hour long Christmastime folguedo, with over 70 characters in colorful, textured costumes. The music is simultaneously rousing and haunting, with rabeca (fiddle) and driving percussion accompanying fast footwork. Maracatu rural is a folkloric expression often performed during Carnival; the caboclo de lança is its most recognizable symbol, costumed in a huge bowl hat with bright cellophane ribbons and holding a decorated lance. Chanting and song evoke the spiritual nature of the dance.

In response to pressures to adapt cavalo marinho and maracatu rural to social changes and lack of financial support, Samba na Boca da Mata will allow practitioners to retreat back to the roots of these traditions: the mata, or the forest. “We return the forest, as we have always done,” says Fabinho. At Samba na Boca da Mata, the community will gather at the Sítio Capim de Cheiro in rural Paraíba to dance, sing, and make music together. Spearheaded by Fabinho, the goal is to renovate the space by building bathrooms, weeding, and pruning back the forest landscape. They will handcraft the costumes and instruments. They will be completely self-sustaining.

Men, women, and children of all ages will be invited to participate in the festivities. This project especially aims to create a safe space for young boys and girls from these subaltern communities of northeastern Brazil to participate in and value their culture. Samba na Boca will highlight that cavalo marinho and maracatu are not entertainment, but a way of life.

As Fabinho affirms, “As long as I am dancing, I am existing. I exist.”

This project is supported by Samba Jig Productions. Pablo and Kate studied cavalo marinho and maracatu rural with Fabinho during Kate’s Fulbright in January—July 2018, they are dedicated to supporting initiatives that promote the valuation of northeastern Brazilian culture. For more details about this research, visit