Trip Start Aug 10, 2007
92Trip End Dec 27, 2007
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We were then treated to a 20 minute display of various Brazilian dance styles, including the latest craze, The Funk. The Funk involves dancers bending at the knees, sticking out the butts and shaking them as much as possible. With many Brazilians having an African heritage, the "pondoes" assist greatly in making this a spectacle worth watching. Although Jules did a very good imitation in our hostel room, she was unwilling to do it in public! However, we soon found out that Jules was a Capoeira natural!!
After the dancing the Capoeira guys arrived and did a demonstration of their fighting art. The explanation is below; and when they had done a 45 minute display, they asked for people from the hostel to join them, and Jules was first up. She did very well jumping around like a lunatic, before they got other travelers to have a go. I resisted the attempts of the leader to have a go, and made a deal to send him photos instead!
Wikipedia's explanation of Capoeira is:
"Capoeira is a Brazilian fight-dance, game, and martial art created by enslaved Africans during the 17th Century.
Participants form a circle and take turns playing instruments, singing, and sparring in pairs in the centre of the circle. The game is marked by fluid acrobatic play, feints, subterfuge, and extensive use of groundwork, as well as sweeps, kicks, and head butts.
Technique and strategy are the key elements to playing a good game
From the 16th-19th centuries, Portugal shipped slaves into South America from western Africa. The South American country of Brazil was the most common destination for African captives with 42% of all enslaved peoples shipped across the Atlantic.
One catalyst for capoeira was the homogenization of African people under the oppression of slavery. Capoeira emerged as a way to resist oppression, secretly practice art, transmit culture, and lift spirits.
After slavery was abolished in 1888, the freed people moved to the cities of Brazil and with no employment to be found, many joined or formed criminal gangs. They continued to practice capoeira, and it became associated with anti-government and criminal activities. As a result, capoeira was outlawed in Brazil in 1890. The punishment for practicing it was extreme (practitioners would have the tendons on the backs of their feet cut), and the police were vicious in their attempt to stamp out the art. Capoeira continued to be practiced, but it moved further underground.
Legal persecution of the art faded eventually."