Capoeira- A Fight, A Dance
Capoeira may have a different meaning depending on who you ask. In Portuguese, it literally means “Chicken Coop”. However, the native Americans would argue that Kaá (leaf) and Puéra (past aspect marker), mean “formely a forest”.
I was lucky enough to come accross the dance while in Salvador (Bahia) 2 weeks ago. We were walking accross the main square in Pelourinho when I saw people sitting down in a circle and people fighting/dancing in the middle. You can view the video here.
So what is Capoeira? Although its origins can be debatable, Capoeira is a dance invented by the African slaves who were shipped to Salvador in the 1550′s. Forbidden to perform their native African ritual fightings in this new land, they disguised their rituals into the singing and dancing form of fighting.
A roda is formed where anyone can join. It includes a circle of spectators such as drummers, berimbaus, singing and clapping to encourage both participants in the roda. A new game begins when a spectator opens his palm towards the person they would like to “play” with. The basic movement used by the capoeirstas to move around in the roda is the ginga- a standing, stepping motion. This is done to prepare the body for subsequent movements. Basic attacking moves include kicks, handstands, headspins, sweeps, jumps, flips, cartwheels, elbow strikes and more. A series of esquivas (“escapes”), such as the rolê are used by the capoeirstas to defend themselves. The rolê is a rolling move combined by a duck and low movement.
The ultimate goal is not to injure the opponent but to emphasize on skill.