What is Capoeira?
Capoeira is a unique Afro-Brazilian art form. It combines dance, music, percussion, martial arts, acrobatics and gymnastics into a sport and game appropriate for everyone. Capoeira has been referred to as "the dance-fight for freedom", as it was disguised as a playful dance by African slaves who used this art form in their fight for liberation from slavery. The practice of capoeira conditions the whole body by building strength, flexibility, balance, coordination and self-esteem.
The game of Capoeira takes places between two individuals with a circle of people who clap their hands, sing and play musical instruments in order to provide energy (axé) for the two players at the center of the circle. Players exchange an intricate sequence of kicks and evasive maneuvers as the game develops. The musical instruments commonly used are atabaque (Afro-Brazilian drum played with the hands), pandeiro (tambourine) and berimbau (stringed instrument with a gourd as an amplifier which is played with a stick and a stone to make different tones).
The musical aspect is very important in Capoeira as it provides the energy and rhythm for players to perform. Other dances, such as maculelé and samba are often included in Capoeira performances. Maculelé is a dance performed to the rhythm of the atabaque that involves players dancing and rhythmically striking the sticks of the opponent. Unlike Capoeira, the object is not to outwit your opponent but is mainly aesthetic. Samba de Roda is a samba dance that is often performed after a Capoeira circle (or Roda). Two dancers (one male, one female) dance the samba dance within the Capoeira roda while the other participants provide music (vocal and percussion).