Class Field Trip: A Capoeira Workshop

The past month I was in a block called Racial Democracy: Focus in Brazil. The course was lead by Bianca Brigidi who has a BA and MA in Ibero-American Societies from the Pontifical Catholic University of RS (Brazil), and a PhD in Latin American history from the University of California, Santa Barbara (US). During the class we explored the origin, implication, and perpetuation of the myth of racial democracy in Brazil.

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One of our discussions was on Capoeira, a martial art that originated during the 16th century. The art was created as a form of self-defence from oppressors by African and indigenous slaves. The word Capoeira is originally from an indigenous language and translates to “tall grass “. This stems from that fact that if slaves were able to escape they would use this grass to hide in and ambush their masters.  There are two main kinds of Capoeira: Angola and Regional. Angola is characterized by a particular attention to rituals and traditions, often slower and low play. Regional has more high-flying kicks, powerful attacks, and thus is faster and requires agility. To move away from text and actually experience some of the things we were talking about, Bianca organized a Capoeira workshop for our class.

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The school we went to was located in Vancouver and was called Axe Capoeira Vancouver.  The Grupo Axe Capoeira began in 1982 in Recife Brazil, and continues to rise as one of the world’s leading organizations. We arrived at their school early in the morning, had an introduction to Capoeira and started a warm-up. The workshop was an intense workout, and we learned some of the basic steps to Capoeira. Once we learned the basic moves we started practicing in pairs and learning some of the songs. Capoeira is played in a circle called Roda, with two members playing in the center and the people around singing, clapping and playing different instruments. Some of the instruments were Atabaque (kind of drum), tambourines, and berimbau.

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It was an incredible experience to practice and bring to life what we had read and talked about for a month. After spending a lot of energy in the workshop we headed to a Brazilian restaurant and enjoyed a meal with our classmates. This field trip is just one example of many others that I have gone to at Quest. Being on the block program allows us to go on field trips for a full day or even weeks and not having to worry about coming back for other classes.

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