More about the classes


Our classes are ongoing with the aim of building a continued presence of Capoeira in our community. New students are welcome to join classes at any time. Tuesday classes are focussed on one aspect or another over a two or three week period. In these classes movement or musical skills or kicks and attacks are worked on. The beginners class follows the intermediate class so that beginners can see what they are working towards. The Sunday class is broader including a lengthy roda at the end. It is a class for students of all levels including newcomers. This class follows a similar path every week, playing music, singing, learning new songs, working on movement, discussing different things to do with Capoeira and of course Roda!

There are many reasons for our practicing Capoeira. Everything from simple enjoyment to fostering cultural understanding. Classes introduce people hopefully not only to the art of Capoeira, but to the wider Brazilian culture, trying to understand the ways of a different society, its social history and way of life as well as the lighter side of things, Acaraje, Caruru, Vatapa, Caiparinha and Suco de Caju.

A lot of effort is put into asking the question, "What is Capoeira?". So while our classes are very friendly and never short on laughter, there is also a seriousness about them. We are not there just to play games. There is a danger of letting go much of what is core to the life of the art without which Capoeira has no relevance.

It is hard enough to really discribe Capoeira in short writings and nobody learns Capoeira from the internet or instructional videos. There is much talked about how Capoeira x does this while Capoeira y does that. But Capoeira is Capoeira in whatever form. . . you're best to just check it out yourself. Join straight in and don't get caught up in thinking that Capoeira is all double flip twisted contortionist mid-somersault freezes. It isn't. We play a lot of music and we sing strong. We move on our hands, our feet, our heads and on all at once. We can play slow and calm with the cunning and trickery of scoundrels and we play fast striking like cobras and jumping around with the gymnstics of a monkey. We pay a lot of attention to the core of what brings Capoeira alive, the people around us and the group we are building.



1/ Music and Song

Students are introduced to Capoeira through the music. There is a strong emphasis on the music. In this country we are in situation where the music and other expressive aspects of Capoeira are not around us and so we have to work harder at some things. The musical aesthetic is one of these things. Students work with the different percussion instruments and learn the basic rhythms. First the recoreco (scraper), agogo (double cow bell), pandeiro (skinned tamborine) and atebaque (single conga drum).

Students also learn the chorus responses to many of the songs. The language used in Capoeira is Portuguese which is not heard very much here. However many of the stories behind the songs are explained so that students know what they are singing about even without understanding the language. There are countless songs. Some tell the history of Capoeira, some symbolise or explain various Capoeira traits while others are simple jingles.

All students who have begun training seriously are shown how to play the berimbau. The berimbau (the central, bowed percussion instrument) is taught in more detail as the student advances. Beginners are only expected to learn how to play the instruments listed above and sing some of the choruses before moving on to the intermediate classes.

2/ Movement

There are two main areas that make up the jogo de capoeira. The first is the general movement. The players move around, over and under each other weaving kicks and gymnastic-type movements in constant dance like motion. There is ginga, swing and dance in the body of the Capoeirista that creates both a particular aesthetic beauty and an opportunity to out-manuoever the other player. The second area involves the kicks, escapes and counter attacks that are lashed out from the general movement. Basic kicks and escapes are taught step by step so that key components can be explained. Then these are put together in sequences of movements so that the students learns to flow from one move to the next. Lastly these sequences are learned together with another person so that there is plenty of practice in working together. The idea in this paired practice is to help each other out particulary learning how to respond to different attacks and to learn to create a dialogue in movement with another person. A person's game is not just decided by what they want to do but by this based on the movement of the person they are playing.

Another important part of the general movement are the gymnastic-type moves, the theatrics and the different games within games. These things are learnt in different ways often outside of class. Within the class these aspects are put into the capoeira context so that they are used appropriately.


3/ Roda!

Eventually everything comes together in the dynamic and exciting Roda (pronounced Haw-dah). Students are introduced to the free, improvised and spontaneous play of the roda in class. It is the performance, the game or dance of the art. Many new students don't realise that they are ready to play very shortly after they have begun classes and may be ready after the first class but are shy or are not confident enough to join the roda. We encourage students to jump straight in. Newcomers will only play with a much more advanced student who can guide their movement within the roda.



A typical Sunday class

We begin the class with music. Students interchange between the different instruments, songs are sung and some of the dynamics of the ensemble are worked out and discussed. By the time we're through with that everyone who is going to be there has arrived and we learn some new songs or practice some of the songs we know. Then the class begins some of the routines; going through the different physical aspects of Capoeira interaction. Beginners may train together on basic moveement or may train with a more advanced student who takes them through the motions. The last half of the class is roda. We want everyone play a lot of games and to play different people all the time. This is not an open roda although sometimes Capoeiristas who are visiting can play.




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