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Capoeira - Dance or Fight?

Capoeira is a dance of rare physical beauty. It is also violent and very fast, a delicate and astute fight - the highest choreographic expression of a suffering race.

Capoeira is a word with no translation, though possibly somehow connected with the word poeira, meaning dust. Capoeira is a dance of rare physical beauty. It is also violent and very fast, a delicate and astute fight - the highest choreographic expression of a suffering race.

The capoeira appeared in Brazil with the arrival of the slaves. At first, its performance was persecuted by the senhores de Engenho, the farmers-owners, and later by the police, because of the highly dangerous nature of the capoeira as a mean of aggression as well as defense.

The present, playful capoeira is done accompanied by the sound of musical instruments such as reco-reco, caxixí and tambourines, but chiefly by one exotic instrument which is the very soul of the capoeira: the berimbau de barriga or simply the berimbau. There is a great variety of rhythm in the sounds of the berimbau: Angola, Sao Bento Grande, Sao Bento Pequeno, Santa Maria, Angelinha and Cavalaria are the names of just a few of them. The dancers, moving in accordance with the rhythm, use many different golpes (strikes) to hit the adversary with legs and feet only. All these golpes have again their names: rabo de arraia (tail of a kite), volta ao mundo around the world), tombo de ladeira (slope tumble), rasteira (tripping), bencao (blessing), martelo (hammer), etc.
During the vadiacao (idleness), the rest between the fighting dances, they sing the chulas country dances tunes) which usually speak of the feats of the famous capoeiristas, of tales from the past, or give challenge to other capoeira-dancers, or even to the audience.

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