What is capoeira? Is it a dance, exercise, martial art, or some type of self-expression? Well to be honest, capoeira is a mixture of all of the above. Each movement is slightly modified by each practitioner (capoeirista) in a way that reflects their natural style. Kicks and escapes are taught to every student but choosing which to use in each situation makes every game unique. One individual may choose to counter attack while another may avoid an opponent’s movements at all costs without any attempts to retaliate. This variation among practitioners is what separates capoeira from other martial arts. Its nonlinear movements result in an artistic display of expression which translates into a two-way conversation.
Viewers may be more accustomed to seeing the faster more acrobatic versions of capoeira which are referred to as regional and contemporanea. These two forms of capoeira are much quicker than angola and are generally much “flashier” than there angola counterpart. Although regional and contemporanea are the high flying crowd pleasers, angola offers a subtle, highly strategic alternative to the fast paced alternatives. Angola games are much closer and continue for a greater periods of time. Capoeirstas participating in an angola roda generally wait for the previous game to finish before they are offered an opportunity to create their own game. This drastically varies from the other two forms in which games are constantly bought.
Angola also demonstrates a much looser or expressive form of ginga (the basic back and forth movement of capoeira). Practitioners have a bit more time to think and execute their movements which requires greater control and preparation. Slowing one’s kicks is extremely difficult and truly pushes ones abilities to the max. Movements are also much tighter and do not allow as many openings in comparison to regional and contemporanea. This is due to the close proximity of players and the constant need to protect one’s self from head-butts, punches, takedowns and other various attacks.
Other variations related to angola arrive in the form of the bateria. The bateria consists of 3 berimbaus each producing different pitches or inflections of the chosen rhythm. These instruments range in size from small to medium and large and consist of a wire string attached to a bent piece of biriba wood. When struck, these instruments produce a distinct sound that always grabs the attention of capoeirstas and strikes curiosity in those unfamiliar with its hypnotic rhythms.
The images seen throughout this article along with the accompanying galleries were all made possible due to the combined efforts of each capoeirista. I would like to especially thank Shane and Daniell Walcott for organizing the event and providing the location for everyone to practice. This was a great meet and I met several new capoeiristas which I hope to play again in the near future. Playing new people encourages growth and forces individuals to adapt their game to new playing styles. This is mutually beneficial and I can’t wait until the next meetup and look forward to creating new memories.
PS: I recorded several of the games and will be posting them later. They are a bit too large at the moment so im working on a way to post them. Stay tuned and check back regularly to see the great performances many of you demonstrated. Also, there are over 100 images and I will release them sequentially rather than all at once. That will hopefully help you avoid a capoeira overload. Please tag and share so everyone sees their pics and is included. Until next time, stay boundless everyone.
Angola Gallery 1