Tag Archive: FAQ

Oct 26 2011

What types of songs are sung in capoeira?

Capoeira songs fall into four main categories: ladainhas, chulas, corridos, and quadras. Capoeira angola uses ladainhas, chulas, and corridos. Mestre Bimba’s capoeira regional used primarily quadras and corridos. Capoeira contemporânea uses primarily corridos, though some groups use ladainhas and chulas when playing to the angola toque on the berimbau. Ladainha The word “ladainha” means “litany.” …

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Oct 26 2011

Is capoeira related to breakdancing?

Capoeira and breakdancing contain similarities in their footwork, groundwork, and upside-down movements, leading some to theorize that capoeira gave birth to breakdancing. Capoeira arrived in New York City with Mestres Jelon Viera and Loremil Machado in the 1970s, around the time of breakdancing’s origin. However, the earliest bboys had little to no contact with capoeira. …

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Oct 26 2011

What is axé?

The term axé (also spelled aché or ashé – all pronounced ah-SHEH) comes from the Yoruba peoples of Western Africa. It is the name they gave to the life force; the concept is similar to the Eastern idea of qi. In capoeira today, axé has come to mean something like “energy.” If a roda has …

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Oct 26 2011

What are chamadas?

Chamadas (meaning “calls”) are ritual sub-games within the roda of capoeira angola. During a chamada, one player pauses and assumes a characteristic position that is understood to “invite” the other player to approach. There are several different types of chamadas; the player who initiates one may stand with one or both hands extended, either facing …

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Oct 26 2011

What is capoeira’s relationship to religion and spirituality?

Capoeiristas are not required to practice a certain religion or any religion at all. Capoeira is very loosely connected to candomblé (an African religion) and Catholicism: references to both orixás (the deities of candomblé) and Catholic saints appear in capoeira songs. Why candomblé and Catholicism? Well, the African creators of the art brought their religion with them …

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Oct 26 2011

Who was Zumbi?

Zumbi was born around 1655 in the quilombo called Palmares (quilombos were self-sufficient communities formed by escaped slaves and Indians). As an infant, he was captured during an attack on Palmares and given to the Portuguese priest Antônio Melo, who baptized him with the name Fransisco. When he was fifteen years old, he fled and returned to Palmares, …

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Oct 26 2011

What is the role of acrobatics in capoeira?

Capoeira is NOT acrobatics! A person who does lots of flips is not necessarily a good capoeira player. To truly understand the role of acrobatics in capoeira, you have to understand the concept of floreios – what are they, and how and when are they used in the roda? Floreio means “flourish” and refers to movements that are …

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Oct 26 2011

What are capoeira’s main philosophies?

There are many philosophies that guide the movements, music, and rituals of capoeira. Some of the art’s underlying principles are understanding the complexities of human interaction, the importance of being ready for anything, the value of cleverness, and the strength of indirect resistance. These fundamentals are useful not only in capoeira, but also in day-to-day …

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Oct 26 2011

Who was Mestre Pastinha?

Mestre Pastinha (Vicente Ferreira Pastinha) is best known for preserving capoeira angola, the more traditional style of capoeira. He lived from 1889 to 1981. Vicente Ferreira Pastinha was born on April 5th, 1889 to José Señor Pastinha and Eugênia Maria de Carvalho. He learned capoeira at age 8 from an African named Benedito, who taught …

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Oct 26 2011

What musical instruments are used in capoeira?

There are five main instruments used in capoeira: berimbau, pandeiro, atabaque, agogô, and reco-reco. The types of instruments used to form the bateria (orchestra) depend on the style of capoeira Rodas of capoeira angola typically use three berimbaus (a gunga, médio, and viola), one or two pandeiros, an atabaque, agogô, and reco-reco. Rodas of Mestre Bimba’s traditional …

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