Fight of Dancers and Dance of Fighters '
'Capoeira Angola is the oldest and most genuine form of Capoeira. Its origins date back to the time of the African slave to Latin America. During their struggle for freedom the slaves developed a technique of fighting hidden in a mystic dance. '
Terreiro Mandinga de Angola (TMA) is proud to actively contribute to the preservation of Capoeira Angola, one of the many branches of African Culture in the world today. The musical element is equally as important as the physical aspect in understanding and transmitting knowledge about the origins and foundations of Capoeira Angola. Through playing the instruments and the capoeira game, we earn a sense of physical balance and emotional sensitivity, helping us to gain control over our fear, tolerance, courage, hate and love
HOW IS CAPOEIRA PRACTICED?
Brutal force does not exist in Capoeira Angola, rather technique, flexibility, cunningness, and reflex are its predominating features. To begin the game, participants form a circle around the orchestra which is comprised of
Viola (smallest gord- highest tone)
Gunga (biggest gord- deepest tone)
Medio (medium sized gord- mid tone)
Agogo (Cow bell)
The game begins when two Capoeiristas kneel in front of the orchestra and prepare while attentively listening to the music. Once permission is given they begin playing. During the Angola game, one must 'play and let play', respecting the rules that determine its development. The two players are always aware of each others movements, playing closely without hitting each other and interrupting the harmony of the game. It is a game of mind and body control, where one has to make the best of opportunities and gain the advantage whilst respecting their opponent. Fun, theatricality and respect make this exchange a form of reconnecting the body with the soul
A Brief History of Capoeira
It is estimated that a total of two million African slaves were sent to Brazil during the period of Portuguese colonisation. These slaves arrived on slave boats and were distributed primarily in the port areas of Bahia, Pernambuco and Rio de Janeiro helping with the sugar and coffee plantations among other things.
The slaves taken to Rio and Pernambuco were from different ethnic backgrounds and therefore occasional conflicts would occur which in turn reduced the possibility of an organised and united resistance against their capturers. As all slaves knew that their condition of being involuntary workers would not change, they began to migrate and plan escape tactics.
An important moment in slave resistance occurred in Recife when a slave revolted against his master, killed all the white workers and burnt down the plantation. The group of 40 slaves working there then set themselves free and fled in search of a safe place to hide. After a long and tiring journey, they eventually found a place hidden amongst palm trees and made camp. The settlement was to become one of the most influential and lasted for over 100 years. It was called 'Quilombo dos Palmares.'
It is said that the first forms of Capoeira were developed in this community. The common cause of resistance united African slaves, indigenous populations and white settlers, giving Palmares an immense cultural richness. In this new environment, settlers shared their dances, rituals, religions and games. From this cultural fusion, primitive versions of Capoeira emerged. The population of Palmares was growing very fast as more and more fleeing slaves joined the settlements. This raised fear amongst the Portuguese colonisers as an increasing number of slaves fled to the newly established ‘African Nations’
The Dutch invaded Brazil in 1630, much to the dismay of the Portuguese, The slaves made the best of this opportunity and with the help of Palmares, fled the plantations and began to fight the Portuguese army, which was now busy against the enemy. Holland won the war but the fight was not over for the Africans. The Dutch organised various expeditions to exterminate Palmares. They sent well equipped soldiers with vast experience and yet failed to defeat the uprising slaves. The Africans had invented a war tactic called jungle fighting. Capoeira was the most important element of this fight and therefore became its weapon and symbol of freedom.
In 25 years, the colonies suffered 11 uprisings which culminated with the abolition of slavery on the 13th of may 1888. After the abolition of slavery the plantation owners were no longer interested in labour and this caused mass migration to the cities where previous slaves settled in low grade neighbourhoods, called favelas. There was no work in the cities and many slaves got involved in organised crime while other more fortunate ex-slaves thanks to their knowledge of Capoeira, were contracted by politicians and other important people as bodyguards. This sudden spread Capoeira was perceived as a threat and many believed that it would eventually destroy political life in the country. The president issued a rigid legal code exclusively aimed at the practice of Capoeira, followed by a new police force to enforce it. Capoeira was made illegal in Brazil. One of the most strict laws was soon passed which consisted in exiling any individual found to be practising Capoeira.
The law that banned the practice of Capoeira lasted until 1920, Despite persecution, Capoeira survived. In these occult places, Capoeiristas made their greatest efforts to preserve and keep their traditions alive, and by presenting it as an art form, they succeeded in making Capoeira more acceptable in society. Today Capoeira has spread all over the world. In Brazil as part of the culture there are Capoeiristas throughout the world.e world.