Balé Folclórico da Bahia, the only professional folk dance company in Brazil, was formed in 1988 by Walson Botelho and Ninho Reis. Based in Salvador in the northern state of Bahia, and under the leadership of artistic director José Carlos Arandiba, the 32-member troupe of dancers, musicians, and singers performs a repertory that originates from Bahian folkloric dances of African origin and includes slave dances, capoeira, samba, and those that celebrate Carnival. The company highlights the region's culture within a contemporary theatrical vision.
Balé Folclórico da Bahia made its European debut in 1992 when it participated in Berlin's Alexander Platz International Festival and drew an audience of 50,000. Its U.S. debut tour was in 1995-96, and it has since performed in 88 U.S. cities.