Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian mix of dancing and fighting. It was a way for Brazilian
slaves to disguise a martial art and defend themselves. There are over 160 different
capoeira moves. Some are simple ones that anyone can do, and others are extremely
hard and require a lot of acrobatic skills. It was really cool to take part in a
capoeira lesson at the Capoeira de Angola School and try some of the moves that
we had seen. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Our instructor quickly
realized that I was the only one of our group who could do more of the difficult
moves, those that require two people. It was as if we were dancing and fighting
at the same time, but with no intention of hurting anyone. Our instructor said I
should come back to Salvador and train to be a capoeirista (a practitioner of capoeira).
It made me feel really honored when she said that and I was becoming more and more
Brazilin the more time I spent in Brazil.
Samba City is a bunch of warehouses built by the Rio de Janeiro municipal government
to be used as the construction sites for the samba school floats in the Carnaval
parade competition. Carnaval is just like Mardi Gras in New Orleans only more extravagant.
There are 12 different major samba schools that spend over $2 million each in making
lavish floats and costumes for the four days of festivities. While we were there,
work on the floats was very hectic. The global financial crisis had affected Brazil
and resulted in reduced funding. As a result many schools where behind schedule
with only about a month to Carnaval. The floats that were done were covered up,
ready to be revealed at Carnaval.
We went into the Salgueiro warehouse; this samba school prides itself on its African
heritage. This year its Carnaval theme is “Tambor” (drum) and the Ensaio Geral
publication from Samba City states that Salgueiro “will exalt the drum as an instrument
of communication between men and those from the spiritual plane glorifying myths
and divinities.” On our last night in Rio we went to the Salgueiro samba school’s
pavilion and saw just a few of the numerous dancers from the Salgueiro School. I
had never seen anything like that in my life. They were dancing so fast and moving
their hips without moving their torsos. In addition, they were wearing next to nothing
and covered in glitter. Seeing the show made all of us want to be in Brazil for
Carnaval in February.
Video of Capoeira
Video of Samba City