Yes that’s right, From Mid-January we will be having Capoeira classes on Wednesdays in one of our evening time slots
But what is Capoeira some of you may be asking? Well fear not, read on further to find out more about this exciting class we will be bringing to you.
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian form of dance/martial arts involving full body motions such as leg sweeps, slapping, kicking, punching, acrobatics and strikes.
How did Capoeira come to be?
African slaves in Brazil and other South American countries developed Capoeira as a form of fighting disguised as dancing.
These African slaves developed Capoeira as a way of resisting oppression while transmitting their art, keeping their culture alive and lifting their spirits. It was very common for the slaves to meet at night and form outlaw communities called “Quilombos.”
After slavery was abolished in 1888, many slaves continued to practice Capoeira, but it soon became associated with anti-government or criminal activities and was later banned in Brazil in 1892.
Regardless of the nation-wide ban of Capoeira, it was still secretly practiced underground in small groups called ‘Rodas’ which is a circle formed by capoeiristas and capoeira musical instrument players where every participant would take part in creating song. A special rhythm called “cavalaria” was also added to the music to warn players if the police were coming.
The roda is the center of Capoeira. To get a picture of a roda, imagine a spirited fight in a high school hallway or right in the middle of the street. Immediately, the crowd forms a circle around the combatants, shoulder to shoulder, shouting energy into the middle to keep the fight interesting. A Capoeira roda has that circle of people, that environment. At the head of the roda is the bateria, the row of instruments that govern the players and direct the members of the circle. Each instrument in the bateria takes its place in a strict hierarchy, with the berimbau as the master.
Every rhythm the berimbau plays means something to the roda. The circled people clap in time with it; the faster the rhythm, the faster and more energetic the players must be within the circle, and the game is bigger and flashier. A slow rhythm means a slow, clever game full of tricks. Each instrument improvises upon the theme of the berimbau and supports it. One person in the roda, often the master of the roda who plays the berimbau, leads the songs. A solo called a ladainha precedes the game, followed by call-and-response songs of all natures, and each one means something. The leader sings each verse, and the entire roda echoes back the chorus. There are songs to exhort the players to play more energetically, to show off their best moves, to tone down the violence, to tone up the violence, to honor famous Capoeiras, or simply to revel in some aspect of the culture. The game obeys the berimbau and songs and is created by the players.
The social expectations of each roda vary by the group of people. Some use shoes, some don’t, some have specific traditions for beginning a game or entering the roda. In general, a game is begun with the instruments starting in the order of their hierarchy, first the lead berimbau, then the others, then the atabaque, then the pandeiro, then the agogo. The ladainha (which literally means litany) is sung, and then the circle begins clapping with the instruments. Two players crouch at the foot of the berimbau, holding hands; one always enters the roda by paying respects to the berimbau. When the first chorus is reached, the two players enter the roda, often with some variation of an aú. As their game progresses, another player from the roda may circle round to pay their respects to the berimbau, find an opening, and buy the game with the player who has been in the longest. The game continues in a flow of new Capoeiras until the berimbau signals the end. The players in the roda shake hands—without ever taking their eyes off each other, lest there be a final trick—and exit the roda.
Feel free to contact us if have want to know more about the upcoming classes.