By Julia Friedman
It begins with a steady beat. The audience sits enraptured. Suddenly, the voices of the artists are heard one-by-one as they begin the “fight.” Union College enjoyed its first glimpse of the ancient fight-dance art form of Brazil, called capoeira, at the International Festival earlier this month. Little was it known that capoeira was going to be a welcome addition to the wide range of international arts found on campus. “Capoeira incorporates music, dancing and acrobatics,” explained Andrew Viñales ‘13. Viñales, who began learning capoeira during high school, hopes to start a club on campus next year. He hopes “to share [capoeira] with any one interested in dance, martial arts or both. It is also great for people who like music.
This unique Brazilian art form originated as a fighting and survival tactic of African slaves and remains today as a symbol of the afro-Brazilian tradition. The berimbau, which bears resemblance to a bow and arrow, is the main percussion instrument used in capoeira. In addition, clapping and singing accompany hand drums and tambourines. The dance aspect of capoeira is called playing. Ginga is the principal movement of rocking back and forth in a low stance; it is while doing the ginga that trickery and subtle attacks are incorporated. Some of the other basic movements are leg sweeps, kicks and cartwheels.
Today, capoeira is a representation of the rich history and mixing of cultures that defines Brazil and is taught across the world. The club would be open to students of all artistic backgrounds. “It’s for everyone,” Viñales explained enthusiastically. “I want to show it to people who may not be familiar with dance, martial arts or music. And if you are, I want to bring everyone together since it’s such a diverse art form. There is something in it for everyone.”
Student Forum has not yet approved the capoeira club, but Viñales hopes to get it started next fall. “I’ll be in Brazil in the fall,” he said. “But hopefully I’ll have someone on campus to help me get the club approved.” Viñales plans to expand his copoeira training while in Brazil. He has big ideas for the club, which includes hiring a capoeirista (a capoeira master) to bring to campus and scheduling group performances for the community. “I hope this article will advertise the Capoeira Club and promote interest on campus,” expressed Viñales. “If any one is interested, please email me.’