Capoeira's Cousin?

Between 1500 and 1900, millions of Africans were transported to the Caribbean, Europe, and South and North America. Their descendants are now found around the globe and make up what is known as the African diaspora.

Capoeira Angola is a phenomenon of the African Diaspora, developed from the N’golo ritual. But what of the African diaspora in other parts of the world?

In Martinque, the art form of Danmyé (or Ladja or Ag'ya) developed from the N’golo ritual, like Capoeira Angola. One site notes:
The singer spurs on the wrestlers by means of provocative lyrics. These lyrics are derived from the history of Martinique. They either praise a famous "major" or highlight the qualities of courage, strength or even wickedness of one of the wrestlers.
Sound familiar?

Look familiar??

The video is pretty amazing, and it is interesting to note the similarities and differences between the two forms.


Rio Conference; Homenagem aos cultos africanos

Here's the latest on the 11th Annual FICA Conference.

Theme: “Homenagem aos cultos Africanos” - Honoring the African Cults
Place: Rio das Pedras, Rio de Janeiro
Date: July 26- 29
Mestres Invited: All FICA Mestres, Mestre Rogerio (Alemanha), Mestre Jogo de Dentro, Mestre Jaime de Mar Grande, Mestre Manoel, Mestre Baba (RJ), Mestre Mano or Mestre Ze Carlos, CM Paulinha, and CM Alcione.
Price: $150.00 prior to May 1, $160.00 prior to the conference, and $180.00 at the door.

FICA-DC people, if you want to get the early bird price talk to Jen M. before February 1. She will be putting together a single money transfer to send to Rio with as registration money (the wire transfer fee is steep, so might as well pay it once).

Three Questions for Mestre Pastinha

One of the main objectves of this blog is to share with the world our unique archive. We have a rich collection of articles from the sixties, including interviews with Mestre Pastinha. Here are three questions pulled from various interviews:

Interviewer: Mestre Pastinha, what are some movements beyond rabo de arria?
MP: Young man, if we were to tell you, the movements would lose their playful grace. You do not like that someone tells you the end of movie before going to the cinema, right? We also don’t like to tell, to show our movements before applying them.

Interviewer: Why do capoeiras look to the side when they play?
MP: This is one of the trickeries of the game. Looking at someone from the side, impedes your adversary from seeing the directions of your attacks. Notice how when in the street two people fight straight on, one looking at the other, they become confused and lose their direction, they get dizzy, right? Also in capoeira the same thing almost happens. If a partner looks directly at their adversary, they will know the intention of that person. The eyes, as the poets have already said, are the mirror of the soul and I say now, they are also the mirror of one’s intentions.

Interviewer: How did Baianas in the past play capoeira with their long skirts?
MP: Initially, capoeira was not a dance, it was a serious fight, maybe the most Brazilian of those around here. But the women of the past, when they had to enter into the “fray”, they would tuck the edges of their skirts up into their pants.* In this way, the dress would become like a pair of pants, permitting for ample movement.

What three questions would you ask Mestre Pastinha??

*Traditional Baiana dress- like the kind you see on the women selling acaraje- includes a white dress with a pair of pants sort of like bloomers underneath.


The Joy of Capoeira

This video, made by Grupo Nzinga de Capoeira Angola, is a testament to the joy of capoeira. Sometimes, we get so caught up in the stress that working and training together inevitably brings out that we lose touch with that wonderful feeling we all got when we first started training. This is a great reminder.

For a firsthand taste of that positive energy, don’t miss the Nzinga roda in Bahia. Explore their informative website, too.

Thanks to KtS for the submission.


Real Brazilian Roots Music

Mário de Andrade was a renowned Brazilian intellectual and one of the founders of the Brazilian avant-garde movement, Modernismo. For all his cutting edge work, though, he was also a passionate student of Brazilian folk culture. “Long-Lost Trove of Music Connects Brazil to its Roots” in today’s NYTimes, reports that in 1938, de Andrade traveled around northeastern Brazil and made recordings of the various musical styles he encountered.

Almost seventy years later, a six CD box set, “Música Tradicional do Norte e Nordeste 1938” has been released by the SESC of São Paulo. The online article contains some sample clips, but you can find much more of the music here. Further, some of the musical instruments he came across will be displayed at the municipal center in Sao Paulo. The article states:

At the time the recordings were made, Brazil was ruled by a military dictatorship that had outlawed Afro-Brazilian religious practices… and “a goodly portion of the objects they collected, especially the drums, came from confiscated material at police stations”..
It sounds like a fascinating CD and a great side trip if you plan to be in Brazil this summer for the conference.

This article is only available on-line to the public for a week or so, but as with all submissions to this site, we will put a hard copy in our archives.



Let's open this blog the way we like to start all good things in Capoeira Angola.

Capoeira é uma arte
Que o negro inventou
Foi na briga de duas zebras
Que o N'golo se criou
Chegando aqui no Brasil
Capoeira se chamou
Ginga e danca que era arte
Em arma se transformou
Para libertar o negro
Da senzala do senhor
Hoje aprendo essa cultura
Para me conscientizar
Agradeço Deus do Ceu
E a força dos orixas!

This is a great ladainha that succinctly conveys the history of capoeira and its significance today. I'll leave it to you and your pocket dictionaries to translate because it is quite straightforward.

We'll have a lot more music in the future, and will discuss what it means and from whence it came, so put us in your favorites, add comments, and check back often.