Oct 27 2011

Interview with Mestre Burguês

Source: Mestre Burguês website
Translated into English by Shayna McHugh

Tell us about the work of Grupo Muzenza inside and outside Brazil.

Grupo Muzenza has grown, especially in poor schools and communities. We’re working to support the true mestres. We’ve also grown a lot outside Brazil, aiming to integrate capoeira into schools in Portugual, Spain, and Israel. The group continues its work with juvenile delinquents and drug addicts, in which we try to educate them through capoeira. We have already seen great results!

What is the direction that capoeira tends to take outside of Brazil?

I worry a lot about the way capoeira is being sold outside of Brazil, since the art keeps growing on every continent. There are many unqualified teachers, who are not teaching all the aspects of capoeira, especially its fundamentals and traditions.

And in Brazil?

Capoeira in Brazil is going through a series of crises, among which is the fact that there are too few students and too many teachers. So the teachers tend to work in some other job and give capoeira classes only at night or on the weekends.

How is capoeira seen today outside of Brazil (both Capoeira Regional and Capoeira Angola)?

Capoeira Regional is seen as a great work developed by Mestre Bimba, but today it is seldomly according to his method. Capoeira Angola is also seen in a positive light, despite having few mestres out there spreading the art.

Do the conflicts between groups in Brazil also occur in other countries?

No, because the mentality of the capoeiristas outside of Brazil is totally different. There, capoeira teachers help other groups, even though in Brazil the groups may be enemies. I think that this could change the attitudes in Brazil from the outside in.

What are the biggest problems that capoeira and its practitioners face today?

One of capoeira’s biggest problems is the Brazilian government’s failure to recognize and support the art, since it is one of the great spreaders of our culture. Capoeiristas have suffered a lot because their profession is not recognized.

How can this be resolved?

We need much unity and love for capoeira in order to resolve these problems.

What hints would you give for students who want to improve their capoeira (in all its aspects): in the game, in the financial aspect, recognition in the community, etc?

In order to have a good game, you need to be very dedicated and constantly seek to research and learn from the true, traditional mestres. Those who want to grow financially in the capoeira profession, besides working hard, must save everything they earn and invest well in order to be a financially well-supported mestre. As for recognition by the community, this can only be won with time and good work.

For you, what does it mean to be a capoeirista?

Being a capoeirista means respecting the art, practicing it with love, and teaching it with honesty, loyalty, good conduct, and humility. Being a capoeirista means having character.

Tell us a bit about the new CD that you are launching.

This is our 19th CD. We tried, as always, to showcase our group’s latest innovations. The CD has 20 songs in the São Bento Grande de Regional rhythm. The official launch took place on November 26 and 27, in Rio de Janeiro, during the International Encounter of Capoeira Muzenza.

What are your plans for the future? 

We plan to launch a 3rd DVD, four books (which are currently in their final phase), our 20th CD, and the 4th Muzenza World Tournament in Rio de Janeiro.