Capoeira   1 comment

Somaxperiments is also a space to share experiences working with capoeira angola, the Afro-Brazilian art form. I’ve been trying to research how we can use capoeira angola as a tool/instrument/process in education in a different cultural context than Brazil.

Roberto Freire was a pioneer in the research for therapeutic approaches to capoeira. He started to use capoeira in his group methodology in the late 80s. He thought that if you want to change something, you must learn how to fight for it, and learning a martial art like capoeira should be useful in the Soma process. I’ve been taking part in all this research, facilitating Soma groups and practising capoeira angola since early 90s, in Brazil, and since 2004, abroad.

My capoeira background comes from this environment and it emphasizes how one can improve physical awareness of and communication with the other (player). I’m particularly interested in stimulating awareness of how the communicative skills of capoeira transfer into other life arenas.

I’ve been trying to create new ways to experience and perform capoeira outside the borders of its own surroundings. I have worked with actors, dancers, kids, young people, football academies, prisoners, people from many cultures, who challenge me to find a way to cross-border capoeira movements without losing its playfulness and trickery. Capoeira is for everyone, as we say in Brazil. Its gentle approach is centred in the proposal that each one will create his/her own way of playing capoeira.

Capoeira is a body dialogue, an interaction calling people to move and feel. The metaphor can also be of a kind of ‘body fencing’, where legs are used like swords. In capoeira angola we say that if players don’t try to challenge each other, it’s a boring game. It’s safe, but boring. What makes a capoeira game exciting to play and to watch is the unpredictable, the surprise, the improvisation asking questions and calling for reaction. You need to take risks to enjoy a good game. There is a phrase from Roberto Freire that summarises this idea: ‘Risk is synonymous with freedom. The height of safety is slavery’.

Taking risks is part of the trickery in capoeira. In this sense, capoeira can be a proposal to cross borders, invade spaces and take risks. We need skills to dare in new territories, skills to defend our limits! Borders are limits to be respected and defended. We need that to know how to define distances, belongings and identities. But we can only live in society if we come out of our ‘shell’, breaking down prejudices against the different, the unusual, and the stranger. Borders are also limits to be crossed, spaces to be invaded. And we need this as well to share contact, learning and relationships.

Capoeira is a collaborative game, where you need to allow the other player to create his/her own game. Playing capoeira is not about competition, but playfulness and team work. You can’t play capoeira alone; you always need at least someone else to have a game. That’s why we say that we don’t fight against, but play with.

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Posted February 15, 2011 by somaanarchist

One response to “Capoeira

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  1. “Palestinian children learn the Brazilian way”, an article published by IPSnews about my work with capoeira in Palestine: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=107148

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