What is Capoeira
Developed in the 1500’s by enslaved Africans in Brazil, Capoeira is a unique art form that blends self-defense techniques, acrobatics, dance-like movements and music into a martial art form.
The capoeira game is played in a circle called a roda, where two capoeiristas engage in a spontaneous conversation of movements, corporal expression, and self-defense techniques (kicks, dodges, take-downs, etc) accompanied by graceful acrobatics and music. The capoeiristas emphasize on control of their movements, quick strategy and reaction to smoothly trick each other and conquer one another’s space.
Those who form the roda clap, sing and play hand-made percussive instruments such as the berimbau, the atabaque (drum), the pandeiro (tambourine), and the agogô (cowbells). Music is essential in capoeira. The rhythm played by the berimbau determines the type of game that takes place. The rhythm also sets the pace of the game, movements and characteristics of a given game.
Songs are sung in a call and response format or in the form of narratives. Typically songs can tell stories about capoeira figures, anecdotes, tales, life deceptions or victories, humor, etc. Often the capoeira singer uses songs to comment on the game being played at the moment, thus making the capoeira roda as spontaneous as it can be.