Capoeira. A few months ago I would have said..."capo what?" But thanks to my friend Rebecca, I've learned about the interesting new world of Brazilian dance and martial arts. Rebecca and her husband, Mauro, run the Des Moines capoeira group, which originated in Sao Paulo, Brazil in the 1970's. I have attended 3 of their "events" (most recently, The World Food Festival) and have thoroughly enjoyed learning about a new culture and new form of expression. I've always been fascinated by other cultures and would love to travel to Brazil some day.
Capoeira first came about in Brazil, where slaves from several different African cultures were thrown together. The slaves combined fighting, music, and dance elements of their cultures and came up with what is now called Capoeira.
African slaves developed their own fighting style to protect themselves from white slave owners, but hid their training by making it look like a ritualistic dance-game. It was practiced by Brazilian slaves up until they were freed in the 1888, at which point Capoeira became the fighting style of criminals. Capoeira gangs would have their own turf, where they controlled the criminal activities. Capoeira at that time incorporated less ritual and music and involved the use of weapons such as knives and clubs. In the early 20th century, the first Capoeira academies were opened, and Capoeira went from being the art of outlaws to being declared Brazil's national sport.
They also teach Afro-Brazilian dance, which is delightful to watch as well. There is so much energy...the music made by the drums and other instruments is amazing. Check out some more photos here. Hear music and learn more here.