Capoeira: A Story Of Liberation

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Capoeira
Capoeira being practiced by slaves
Capoeira being practiced by slaves

Once upon a time Brazil was a Portuguese colony, a land of rich soil perfect for sugarcane and coffee. Since they needed labor to work in fields, the Portuguese brought in slaves from Africa, particularly Angola. Needless to say life wasn’t very kind to the slaves, they had to live away from their families, work in inhumane conditions and adjust to life in a foreign land. The pain and the cruelty they suffered is better forgotten.

As the story goes, they started falling sick from being overworked and ill-treated. So a rule was passed which gave them a couple of hours free every evening. In slave settlements this time was used to sit together and have a good time, maybe sing and dance, tell stories and share troubles. This brought them together and helped them find a release. The details aren’t very clear, but these friendly interactions between slaves led to the creation of a beautiful art form Capoeira. Capoeira is hard to define, its is a dance, a martial art, a game, a form of music and a social group, and yet perhaps none of these. But most of all, it was their path to liberation.

Dance of War- a painting depicting early Capoeira
Dance of War

I strongly believe that human beings create some of the most beautiful works of art, when faced with struggle. Think of the Spanish gypsies, they were scorned and ostracized by society, but living in isolation they practiced Flamenco, a beautiful music and dance tradition that is now hugely celebrated. Similarly with Capoeira, out of their suffering something beautiful was born. It gave the slaves something to do, made them strong, prepared them for combat and in many cases, gave them the courage to stand up to their masters and fight for their freedom.

This was several hundreds of years ago, and since then Capoeira has spread world wide. It is still marginal, but people from all over the world have learnt and spread this Afro-Brazilian dance like martial art. To many it becomes a way of life, a spiritual practice and a form of expression. I discovered Capoeira about a little over fours years ago. Since then I have been entranced by it.

Capoeira
Capoeira

My relationship with Capoeira will be a life long one, I am quite sure. For now, it leads me to Israel, where I will be attending a Capoeira workshop and training program with a well established Capoeira group. I will be gone for a while, and will be back richer, with more knowledge, having seen a new part of the world and with lots of stories to tell.

Like most art forms, sharing it and making sure it lives on is integral. I teach a Capoeira based fitness class in Andheri West and will soon start a new batch in Vile Parle East. Of course these are on hold till I return from my trip.

PS: While I am away, keep reading Mumbai Mag. We have created a few #MumbaiList blog posts that will be published here while I am away, including some very cool food guides that will help you find the best regional food in the city! Happy Reading!

Capoeira Classes in Mumbai:

  • Centre for Capoeira India, Juhu, Khar, Marinelines, Dadar. Contact Baba – 9869055371 or Parikshit – 9820292345
  • Capoeira Angola study group, Bandra (West). Contact Jake – 9769463856
  • Capoeira Fitness, Andheri (West) and Vile Parle (East). Contact me, 9820566649

Post By Salonee Gadgil (86 Posts)

I'll chat with my imaginary pet dog and perfect a handstand while the rest of you act like grown ups.

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Salonee Gadgil

Salonee Gadgil
I'll chat with my imaginary pet dog and perfect a handstand while the rest of you act like grown ups.