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Faire la danseuse and more French dance expressions

On International Samba Day, we look at three French expressions inspired by dance

Learn French words and expressions you may hear in the news today Pic: The Connexion

December 2 is International Samba Day, when countries around the world celebrate the Brazilian dance.

Samba is said to originate in the Brazilian state of Bahia from West African slaves, who were brought over to the country in the 16th century.

The popularity of the dance spread across Brazil and later, especially in the 20th century, the world.

Councillor Luís Monteiro da Costa approved a law making December 2 National Samba Day in Brazil in 1940, and the celebrations spread across the globe, with many cities hosting celebrations such as Samba-themed nights and dance classes.

We look at three French expressions inspired by dance:

Faire la danseuse (literally ‘to do the dancer’):

This expression refers to a cycling position, when a cyclist stands on the pedals, shifting his or her weight from one pedal to the other and moving the bike in the opposite direction to keep balance.

Cyclists often ‘do the dancer’ when they are going uphill.

The side to side movement of the cyclist is said to resemble that of a classical dancer.

The expression dates to at least the early 20th century.

You may also come across the variations se mettre en danseuse (‘to put oneself as a dancer’) and pédaler en danseuse (‘to pedal as a dancer’).

Donner une danse à quelqu’un (literally ‘to give someone a dance’):

This expression means to reprimand or hit somebody and is mostly used by the older generation.

In the 15th century, the word ‘dance’ also meant to chastise someone, and to ‘give them a dance’ would be to tell them off.

However, around the 19th century the expression came to mean to physically chastise - hit - somebody, which is the context it is mostly used in today.

Danse du scalp (literally ‘the dance of the scalp’):

This expression refers to a celebratory dance.

It is said that it was inspired by Native Americans in the 19th century, who would bring back the scalps of their defeated enemies and dance around them in a ritual to celebrate their victories.

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