Friday, 18 April 2008

Capoeira ART BRASIL. Music, dance & much much more…

Photo by Julie Newbold

When I was first told of the existence of this particular community group, I was informed they were a ‘Brazilian martial arts drum school’. Seeking enlightenment, I sallied forth to their regular Wednesday meeting at Summerbank House in Tunstall to see just what it was all about. What I found was something somewhat different to anything I’ve ever come across before.

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form combining cultural music; dance; yoga; fight, although no contact is actually made; and very importantly, play; the term actually used to describe a ‘bout’.

The art of capoeira began in 16th Century Brazil, created and developed by both the native slave Indians in Brazil and slaves brought from Africa. Participants form a roda (circle) and take turns playing instruments, singing, and sparring in pairs in the center of the circle. Traditional instruments employed are the berimbau, a bow made from Brazilian beriba wood strung with a single tyre wire, to which is a attached a resonant gourd (acabaca)and played with a simple thin stick; a conga-like drum called an atabaque and a tambourine, known as a pandiero. A small basket-like shaker called a caxixi is also used; usually by the berimbau player.

The dance, or ‘play’, itself is performed by pairs facing each other and involves fluid movements similar to those practised by martial artists, although in no way do they suggest any aggression. Movements include sweeping kicks; dodges and weaves, and even the odd handstand. The music and chant-like songs are almost hypnotic and to listen and watch the group as they perform is witness something of a great spiritual beauty. I left there very impressed.

Friendly and relaxed capoeira community classes are open to all, whatever experience, or lack of it, you may have and they can be found every Wednesday from 19.00 – 21.00 at Summerbank House, Tunstall or every Saturday at The Wallace Sports and Education Centre in Abbots Road, Abbey Hulton between 11.00 – 13.00. A small contribution of £5 for non-members (£4 for members) is asked for to maintain the classes. In additon to this, there are also regular music workshops led by the group’s Professor Leandro.

If you would like a preview, Capeira ART BRASIL can be seen at the Burslem arts festival on May 10th and also at the carnival parade in the city centre on Saturday 14th June.

Details are available from Mika on 07821-713431 and also on their website on:

Or alternatively email:

Steve Dean

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