Capoeira in Paradise (Hawaii, that is)

Hello all. Here's a note from Joe in Hawaii about a recent event with Mestre Jurandir, Contramestre Silvinho, and Treineu Daniel of FICA-Oakland. Sounds like it was a lot of fun!

* we'll add some pictures soon, but for now, I think this will do. gorgeous!

Afro-Brazilian Cultural Arts Festival
Hilo, Hawaii March 2009

Treineu Daniel arrived on Tuesday afternoon at the little Hilo, Hawaii airport. That night and the next day he gave long classes that everyone enjoyed and appreciated. Already the group had been training intensely, not to mention all the fund raisers and preparations necessary for the conference coming up this weekend. But, Daniel's energy renewed us. Jumping and floating, we burst forth, trying to catch his tricky mind boggling maneuvers. Daniel works serious and loves Capoeira Angola.

At 4:30am the next morning we went to visit Pele, Goddess of the earth fire. Beyond
the other worldly black and rolling lava, called pa hoi hoi, was the Goddess spilling forth. Tricklets of steam tickling up out of the earthen cracks here and there. Freshly formed and cooling. Golden red strands of Pele's hair shimmering and shooting skyward as she met Kapo, Goddess of the ocean and mystery. The full moon was setting opposite the sun simultaneously rising, creation and destruction, immaculate, Pele was kind today. The afternoon was spent relaxing on the black sand beach and later we trained hard and talked capoeira well into the evening until we fell asleep.

On the following day Daniel and I went hiking through the jungle to visit the sweet water. We swam beneath the crushing waterfalls heavy from the rain. Afterward, we made our way to the airport to pick up Mestre Jurandir. We went directly to class where Mestre led the group in music and movement. Mestre's class is always physically, emotionally and spiritually challenging. We were all humbled as he patiently reminded us all about the importance of the most basic movement, Ginga.

The next day we went to a naturally heated warm pond, set next to the ocean, where Mestre loves to go. We spent many hours relaxing there before returning home. We picked up Contramestre Silvinho at the airport that night on the way to the opening of the conference.

So now all of our guests were here, and all that the group had worked so hard to achieve was underway. After another incredible movement workshop with Mestre we had a stellar music class. He talked about the importance of making a connection to the ancestors. And we sang as deep and as well as we could.

Contramestre Silvinho taught Saturday morning in the church. He gave a basic movement workshop, foundation, foundation and more foundation. A beautiful class. I had many emotions. Feeling the strength of having my teachers here got the better of me as I often feel alone in the struggle to keep my practice going in their physical
absence. I hoped the class would never end.

Following the workshop Mestre gave a lecture on his work in Mozambique, Africa. It was nice to hear the way Capoeira Angola is putting people together there, man, woman and child. Always challenging social norms and connecting otherwise disparate factions. It is nice to know that we have Capoeira family in Africa.

After the lecture we had local samba percussionist, Jesse Seymore do a workshop with the group. He taught us what he had learned while spending time in Salvador, Bahia. The rest of the afternoon was spent in the Roda playing Capoeira. And then the local samba community did a Rio style glitz and glamour performance led by Lisa Dixon. It was fun to watch. The synergy was bubbling below the surface and that's when Silvinho went to work. He is so much fun. He took a drum and the social barrier was broken and the evening relaxed. And when the energy was right Mestre took a conga and the party was on. He was in full form and everyone danced wildly.

The last day of the conference was here and we had to cancel the morning class due to the late night samba party. We did some more percussion and Lisa Dixon taught a beginner samba class in the Rio style and then the Bahia style.

Afterward, we did a Berimbau workshop with Mestre. There were twenty Berimbaus in a semi-circle, something the Big Island has never seen before. Gorgeous. The conference came to a close with a beautiful Roda, everyone played, sang and had fun. Thanks to Mestre Jurandir, Contramestre Silvinho and Treineu Daniel and to all of FICA Hawaii study group for making this conference happen.

Thanks Joe! Here's to many more events on the island.

Would you like to share your experience at an event with the capoeira community? Send a written piece, photos, or whatever to: ficadcarchives (at) gmail (dot) com.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Pictures from a Roda in Lapa

On the first Saturday of the month, Grupo Capoeira Angola Aluande, under the direction of Contramestre Urubu, hosts a roda during a crafts and antique fair in the Lapa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. These photos are from the April roda, that included capoeiristas from Grupo Aluande, FICA-Rio, Grupo Ypiranga, Mestre Marrom's group, FICA-DC and other groups.

It was a gorgeous day and a very fun roda with lots of good energy. If you are in Rio the first Saturday of the month make sure you don't miss the roda.

If you have photos that you would like to share with the international Capoeira Angola community, send them to the blog: ficadcarchives (at) gmail (dot) com.


Oakland, USA: Special Workshops

FICA-Oakland presents workshops with
Contramestre Silvinho (Seattle/Belo Horizonte) & Treinel Baba (DC/Bahia)

Friday, April 176:30 pm, music and movements

Saturday, April 18
10:00 am, music and movements
2:00 pm, roda

Sunday, April 19
11, music, movements and roda

Price: USD20 per day
Location: 2513 Magnolia Street, Oakland, Calífonia, USA
Tel: 510-835-2052
email: icafoakland (at) yahoo (dot) com

Have fun!


São Paulo: Celebrating 10 Years of "No Fio da Navalha"

We invite all to take part in our 4th Encounter celebrating 10 years of Capoeira Angola with “No Fio da Navalha” in São Paulo.

The event will take place at the Rodoviados Imigrantes, KM 11.5
Beside the Imigrantes Exposition Pavillion
Place: Mamãe Imigrantes (NGO)
May 9, 2009
1:00 pm
Contact: cenoranofiodanavalha (at) hotmail (dot) com
Phone: 011- 9853- 8495

London, UK: 5 Days of Capoeira Vibe

Five days of Capoeira vibe
with Mestre Valmir of FICA-Bahia

When: April 21 - 26, 2009
Where: Dalston, Angel, West Kensington, Chalk Farm
Contact: tel, 07989480594, or email: vcaranha (at) uku (dot) co (dot) uk

Moscow, Russia: M Cobra Mansa & M Valmir

When: May 8 - 10, 2009
Where: School No. 26, Lomonovski Prospekt, Dom. 12 (Metro station: Universitiet)Tel:79265377201

E-mail:moscou (at) capoeira-angola (dot) ru

FICA Moscou is welcoming Mestre COBRA MANSA & Mestre VALMIR from the International Capoeira Angola Foundation (FICA) for an open capoeira angola workshop.

The workshop is open to beginners and experienced capoeiristas and includes physical training, singing and rhythm. Bring your berimbau!

Price: 4000 rubles*/ for the 3-day workshop

*This price includes regular week classes starting May 5th for all angoleiros!

For accommodation, contact Katia at +7 (917) 587-7661. (Bring your sleeping bag!)

For general info, contact Inna at +7 (926) 537-7201 or Imah at +7 (915) 175 1505.

Hope to see you in Moscow!


Stockholm, Sweden: Workshops with M Cobra Mansa

A message about an upcoming workshop in Sweden:

Don't miss this opportunity to meet Mestre Cobra Mansa

May 15-17, 2009
in Stockholm

Capoeira Angola Workshop
Lessons are for beginners as well as advanced capoeristas and will include physical training, singing and rhythm. There will also be Roda de Capoeira Angola, a lecture by the Mestre, a videoshow, an afrosamba dance class with Rita Nobre from Bahia, and much more.

On Saturday night there will be an African dinner and jam session.

FRIDAY 15 may
18.30 – 21.00 Sofiaskolan, Skånegatan 117

10.00 – 18.00 Tenstahallen

SUNDAY 17 may
10.00 - 18.00 Tenstahallen

650 skr if payed and registrated in advance
750 skr without

Pay at p.g. 836 07 13 - 5 FICA Capoeira Angola Stockholm and register by e-mail ficasweden (at) yahoo (dot) se
Please, register before April 1.

Places to sleep will be arranged, please bring your sleeping bag and do not forget your berimbau.

For more information contact: ficasweden (at) yahoo (dot) se

Have fun!


Not a Woman or Priest Among Them

Long before youtube, great capoeira memories were remembered. In a few rare instances, games were put to paper, and the below is a good example, from the book City of Women by Ruth Landes. The book is a spectacular primary resource about Salvador, Bahia in the 1930s. The language and some of the ideas are dated, but it gives excellent descriptions of Salvador, its people, and the way life was back in the day.

Here is a bit about a capoeira roda that Landes saw in the street with her friend and companion, the anthropolgist and intellectual, Edison Carneiro:

We arrived at the spot where the men were forming for capoeira. Watchers were crowded four deep around a wide circle, and there was not a women or priest among them. To one side of the innermost ring stood three tall Negroes, each holding a berimbau with one end resting on the ground. Two more musicians soon came- one with a chocalho, or metal rattle, and the other with a pandeiro or tambourine. Edison and the others helped push me front, and we were glad of the diversion.

Two capoeirists were squatting there, facing the musicians. One was the champion Querido de Deus (Beloved of God), with the Christian name of Samuel. He was tall, black, middle-aged and muscular, a fisherman by trade. His challenger was the Black Leopard, a younger man, shorter and fatter. They were barefooted, wearing striped cotton jersey shirts, one with white trousers, the other with dark, one with a felt hat, the other with a cap which he later changed to a hard straw hat. Squatting in their hats and bare feet, one had his left arm on his left thigh, the other had his right arm on his right thigh, and the stared straight, resting. It was required of them to keep silent, and the requirement carried over to the audience.

The orchestra opened the events by strumming an invocation, and this monotonous accompaniment too was essential to the occasion. It was a sort of whining, nasal-toned framework within which the men executed acrobatic marvels, always to the correct beat, while the musicians chanted mocking verses:

I stood at the foot of the cross
Saying my prayer
When there arrived Catherine
The very image of the Devil.

Eh, eh, Ah-Rhuanda!
Missy, let's go away!
To beyond the sea!

It's a sharp knife,
Missy, it's for piercing
Missy, throw it to this side
Missy, throw it to that side.

Eh, eh, long live my master
And my mistress, who taught me!
Mester, leave me to the vagrant life!
Missy, to the capoeira life!

Missy, may the earth revole!
Master, may the world go on!"

It was song of challenge and hope and resignation, containing fragments of rebellious thoughts. It did not possess a simple theme well worked out, but it summarized a type of life and of protest, And it opened the fight.

Querido de Deus swayed on his haunches while he faced his opponent with a grin and gauged his chances. The fight involved all parts of the body except the hands, a precaution demanded by the police to obviate harm. As the movement followed the musical accompaniment, they flowed into a slow-motion, dream-like sequence that was more a dancing than a wrestling. As the law stipulated that capoeirists must not hurt each other, blows become acrobatic stances whose balancing scored in the final check-up, and were named and classified. Various types of capoeira had evolved, with subtleties in the forms and sequences of the blows and in the styles of playing ther berimbau.

Querido de Deus was prodigiously agile in the difficult formal encounters with his adversary, and he smiled constantly while the ritual songs droned on:

They told me wife
That a capoeira man had conquered me,
The woman swore, and stamped her foot dowm firm
That this could not have been.

And the berimbaus changed again:

There was I. Oh! There was my brother,
There was my brother and I.
My brother rented a house
But neither he paid, nor I!

Impertintently, with slow, calculated, beautiful movements, Querido de Deus butted his adversary with his hated head, catching him lightly in the pit of the stomach, upsetting his so that he fell on his head. Thereupon the orchestra struck up triumphantly:

Capoeira kills one!

The cutting knife is bad
Prepare your stomach to catch it

The challenging echoes silenced, the round was over, the two men walked and trotted restfully in a counter-clockwise circle, one behind the other, the champion leading with his arms high in the air, the other grasping his wrists from behind while the orchestra played and sang teasingly:

In the days when I had money
My comrade called me kin
After my money was gone
My comrade scorned me as bold.

Gradually, having rested, the one in the front wheeled to face the other one behind, and they parried to the beat of the songs, never still, balancing from one foot to the other, watching for openings.

Comrade, attention!
Capoeira goes at you!

warned the berimbaus. The two faced each other, Querido de Deus swaying, Leopard backing away, always rhythmically. As Querido de Deus advanced, bending from the waist, lowering his head for the telling blow at the other's middle, Leopard curved forward intending to evade him.

Actually he created an opening into which Querido de Deus charged with his right leg, his left one stretched parallel with the ground supporting him. Leopard's arm swung back loosely, and he fell forward over the butting head in a clean arc. Laughing quietly in appreciation, the two rose, loping in circles to relax while the orchestra applauded:

Lo, is a messenger from the king!
He is from Ruanda!
What can one do with capoeira?
He is an African sorcerer
And he knows how to play.

They sparred again, and again Querido de Deus was the one to attack, half squatting as in a Russian dance, swaying, arms curved forward for balance. Instead of following through with his head as before, he worked to one side and suddenly raised up his body. Leopard bent to charge, but Querido de Deus swung his weight to his right leg and cleared his opponent's head with his left, causing him once more to fall sprawling!

Now another insisted upon entering the ring. He had attempted to do so earlier but he had been ignored. Impatiently he pushed Leopard aside, pointing indignantly to the corner where scorekeepers were chalking the points on the ground, points Leopard failed to make. And sulkily Leopard yielded his place.

The hero Querido de Deus wiped his streaming face and back, and bared his head to cool it. Through everything the onlookers remained silent, only shuffling to ease their positions and inner excitement. Soon the bows whined in invocation for the new round:

Who taught thee this good magic?
It was the mistress' boy.
The the boy costs good money.
Good money needs to be earned.

Fall, fall Catarina,
Rise from the sea, come see Dalina.

Tomorrow is a holy day,
Day of Corpus Christi.
He who has clothes goes to mass.
He who has none does- as I do!

Fall, fall

To me this was a performance incongruous and wonderful; to the others it was wonderful and completely absorbing. To then it was right. But the phrases startled me into conjectures about slavery, rebellion and mockery, and I was astounded most at the manner of the performance, which robbed capoeira of its original sting. The police had removed the sting, and the blacks had converted the remains into a weird, poignant dance. Did the songs carry meaning to the people now? Did they recall the struggles that inspired them, or did they merely dramatize black men, as candomblé dramatized black women? The rows of watchers were still, their faces were impassive.

Again, the challenger and the champion began to trot with knees bent, arms swinging loose, Querido de Deus amusing himself with intricate little movements of his feet. Suddenly a boy jumped into the center of the ring flourishing a pot of money. He had just made the rounds with his hat requesting contributions for the fighters; and the orchestra, which rules the occasion, has deiced that instead of apportioning the money, it should be left to a new pair to try for with their mouths, each fending off the other à la capoeira. The boy announced this decision and placed the pot on the ground while the berimbaus teased:

Would you play with a capoeira?
He is a tricky devil…

And Querido de Deus won! But with the heart of a champion he returned the pot to open the struggle again:

Now you can play!

This time the newcomer won. The crowd broke up, painfully uncomfortable under the blistering two o'clock sun…

Learn more about Ruth Landes here.

Have you come across something that you would like to share with the capoeira community? Send it to us: ficadcarchives (at) gmail (dot) com.