What is Frevo?

June 21, 2024


Frevo is a traditional Brazilian dance and musical style that originated in the city of Recife, in the state of Pernambuco. It is a vibrant and energetic art form that is deeply rooted in the culture of the region. In this glossary, we will explore the history, characteristics, and significance of frevo.

History of Frevo

The history of frevo dates back to the late 19th century, when it emerged as a fusion of various musical styles, including marchas, polkas, and maxixes. It was originally performed during the Carnival celebrations in Recife, where it quickly gained popularity among the local population. Over the years, frevo has evolved and adapted to incorporate elements of jazz, funk, and other genres, while still retaining its traditional roots.

Characteristics of Frevo

One of the defining characteristics of frevo is its fast-paced and energetic tempo, which is typically set at around 190 beats per minute. The music is characterized by complex rhythms and melodies, often featuring brass instruments, percussion, and vocals. The dance style is equally dynamic, with performers executing intricate footwork and acrobatic movements to the music.

Significance of Frevo

Frevo holds a special place in Brazilian culture, as it is considered a symbol of the resilience and creativity of the people of Pernambuco. It is also recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, highlighting its importance as a cultural treasure. Frevo is not only a form of entertainment but also a means of expressing identity, history, and social issues.

Costumes and Instruments

In addition to its music and dance, frevo is also known for its colorful costumes and unique instruments. Performers often wear bright, elaborate costumes adorned with sequins, feathers, and other embellishments. The instruments used in frevo include brass bands, drums, and clarinets, which contribute to the lively and festive atmosphere of the performances.

Regional Variations

While frevo originated in Recife, it has spread to other regions of Brazil and beyond, each with its own unique variations and interpretations. In Rio de Janeiro, for example, frevo is often performed as part of the Carnival celebrations, while in São Paulo, it has been incorporated into contemporary dance and music scenes. Despite these regional differences, the essence of frevo remains consistent across all interpretations.

Frevo in Popular Culture

In recent years, frevo has gained international recognition through its inclusion in popular culture and media. It has been featured in films, television shows, and music videos, bringing the vibrant spirit of the dance to audiences around the world. Frevo has also inspired artists in various disciplines, from visual arts to fashion design, further cementing its status as a cultural phenomenon.

Frevo Festivals

One of the best ways to experience the energy and excitement of frevo is by attending one of the many festivals dedicated to the art form. The most famous of these is the Recife Carnival, where frevo takes center stage in parades, performances, and competitions. Other notable frevo festivals include the Olinda Carnival and the Garanhuns Winter Festival, which showcase the diversity and creativity of the dance.

Frevo Schools and Academies

To preserve and promote the tradition of frevo, many schools and academies have been established in Pernambuco and beyond. These institutions offer classes in music, dance, and costume design, allowing students to learn about the history and techniques of frevo. Some schools also organize performances and events to showcase the talents of their students and keep the art form alive for future generations.

Frevo as a Cultural Heritage

As a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, frevo plays a vital role in preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of Brazil. It serves as a link to the past, connecting present generations with their ancestors and traditions. By celebrating and sharing the art of frevo, communities can ensure that it continues to thrive and evolve for years to come.


In conclusion, frevo is a dynamic and vibrant art form that embodies the spirit and creativity of the Brazilian people. Its rich history, unique characteristics, and cultural significance make it a valuable part of the country’s heritage. Whether you are a fan of music, dance, or cultural traditions, frevo is sure to captivate and inspire you with its energy and passion. Experience the magic of frevo for yourself and discover the beauty of this timeless art form.

Tatiana Cesso

As a journalist, I've made it my mission to explore and share stories that inspire, inform, and entertain. You may have stumbled upon my work in esteemed publications such as InStyle, Marie Claire, Bazaar, L’Officiel, and Vogue, among others. Having called the U.S. home since 2010, I've lived in Chicago, LA, and currently, Miami. But my heart always beats to the rhythm of Brazil. It's where I was born and raised, and my love for its culture, people, and energy knows no bounds. To share this passion, I've founded Brazilcore, a platform aimed at bridging the gap between Brazil and English speakers worldwide.