Capoeira

Presentation Link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1olQuDvD5Xjll9e8riYUwAdoyPfFD3nZDhVWbNXt1u00/edit?usp=sharing

Brazil has been the center of attention when it comes to dancing since the days of its discovery and it still seems to be so today. The many different unique styles of dancing have helped form Brazils culture to be the way it is today. The deep roots of dancing go as far back as the early 1500’s during the initial discovery of Brazil. Capoeira was created in the 16th Century by African slaves and very quickly became part of the Brazilian culture. Capoeira is a very unorthodox style of dancing that has motions and movements that are uncommon to other styles of dancing. It was very common for slaves to go about their day living in fear, so they needed something to help calm their fear and provide some sort of protection. Out of fear and terror, the Brazilian martial arts dance known as Capoeira was created based off a combination of fight, dance, and rhythm to help hide the training of selfdefense.

Capoeira is a Brazilian art form, which combines fight, dance, rhythm, music, and movement. It was created sometime after the 16th century. The origins of the details incorporated in Capoeira are uncertain. This is due to the lack of oral tradition and written registers. However, it is evident that African- American slaves had a crucial role in the development or the art form out of fear of their slave masters. The slaves were terrified so they used the dance to cover up what they were actually doing, which was preparing to defend and fight for themselves. It also became popular for entertainment. The musical structure and design of movement is clearly inherited from the Africans. It has been described as coming out of the “burning desire for freedom.”

Capoeira occurs between two people, called “capoeiristas.” The goal is to control the space of the area and to puzzle the opponent with blindsiding and deceptive moves. The movements flow continuously while each opponent observes the other’s moves and responds in a proper, practical way. There are usually five main instruments used in capoeira to create the rhythm which happens to be the berimbau, pandeiro, atabaque, agogô, and reco-reco. During the ritual, the capoeiristas often express and experiment with their strengths, weaknesses, and emotions. The ritual is challenging but satisfying as it assists in the process personal expression, self-reflection, and growth. For a long time, rituals and Capoeira were not even allowed to be legally practiced.

At first, Capoeira was illegal and all Brazilians who engaged in the ritual were arrested. The slave market and owners felt threatened and overpowered by the dance, hence why is was legal. It nearly became extinct. However, with the help of Mestre Bimba, a man from Salvador, in a city where the ritual was still practiced, capoeira was brought back to light. By representing its cultural significance, attention gained from tourists and how valuable it could be as an official fighting technique, Bimba was able to persuade authorities. He created the first Capoeira school in 1932, even though it was not legalized until 1940.

Since it was disguised as a folk dance, the slaves were able to continue to practice it because their owners couldn’t tell that they were trying to enhance their fighting skills. Once the African slaves perfected the art of capoeira, they would use it on their slave owners to escape and be freed in which they fled to small villages which they called Quilombos. Capoeira, depending on the skill level can be very effective; however, it is questioned on whether or not it would be effective in a street fight. Although capoeira can cause serious injuries and even death, it is not extremely violent or aggressive and is more of a dance with elements of martial arts.  

Capoeira has many beneficial aspects physically. It requires continuous and rhythmic bodily motion which works out many muscles of the body. To be an expert at capoeira, you have to be extremely fit. Capoeira develops several physical qualities which are flexibility, strength, endurance, speed, balance, agility and coordination. When practicing capoeira, you gain a great amount of muscle strength due to the fact that you have to support your entire body weight. It also demands a high reflex speed and quickness to be able to counteract your opponents attack. Balance is another required physical feature when practicing capoeira. The moves of capoeira include many attacks where you are balanced on one foot, both hands, or one hand. Capoeira doesn’t just benefit you physically, but it also is beneficial psychologically. After practicing capoeira, it relaxes the body and stimulates the mind. This then makes you in a better mood and increases self-esteem, reduces tension and anxiety and lessens the risk of depression and death.

Capoeira was created as a martial art specific to the Brazilian culture. Many have become travelers of the world in order to see it for themselves, and then spread the relaxing nature that comes about from practicing Capoeira. Given the rise in popularity that this ritual has gained over the years, many foreigners will make the trip to Brazil in order to experience the art in its native land. Those who are truly devoted to understanding and immersing themselves in the Capoeira culture will also take part in learning Portuguese related traditions, as well as, the dance. Capoeira in other parts of the world is portrayed as a more theatrical or “acrobatic” experience. The reason for this is because the aggressive/intense aspect of Capoeira is still under wraps in terms of what the dance was initially created to accomplish in the first place. Those who have been a part of the Capoeira tradition for many, many years are known as experts who are able to hide the dance so well that some people take the routine as a nice greeting. Capoeira is seen as a form of resistance to the oppression that took place during that time. It acted as an active process of standing up for their rights without promoting physical violence. Due to the important impact of Capoeira on Brazilian culture, it is now a permanent part of the legacy of Brazil.

Capoeira has played a significant role in Brazilian society throughout the past and present. It has impacted the lives of so many generations and still is widely recognized and practiced within the Brazilian culture, though it is not limited to just that. In its past, Capoeira has helped ease the fear and terror that was previously instilled in the Brazilian people during the slave times. Not only did it help ease their fear, but it also helped them develop some sort of self-defense and attack method which gave them hope. Now to look at it and to see how it has grown and stuck around today is just simply remarkable. This special art of dancing has helped people by teaching them self-defense, acting as a stress reliever, and has just provided pure fun. Capoeira is still growing and being spread to other countries today. Without its creation out of fear and terror, the Brazilian culture would surely be missing something today.