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World Cafe treats forum guests to surprise Capoeira Luanda show

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On Thursday April 17 at the Houston Public Library downtown, the World Cafe and the Library's forum on literacy treated many of the guests (including myself) to their first Capoeira Luanda show. Capoeira Luanda is a unique Brazilian “game” involving music and ritual marshal arts dance moves. All the participants take turns playing each of three percussion instruments and a “match” within a circle.

Thursday's 15-minute show was presented by the Brazilian Arts Foundation (BAF), with headquarters in the Heights at 1133 E. 11th Street, Houston, Texas 77009. As BAF founder and instructor Mauricio Campos explained, the “game” grew out of the struggle of African slaves to remain unified, preserve their culture, and practice for the struggle for freedom. Just as in American baseball, where teammates are sometimes at bat or in the outfield, the players may be in the circle or outside playing percussion and singing in Portuguese. Moves are not choreographed, so each match is unique. Campos also likened to chess, where each player tries to “control the space” by outmaneuvering the opponent. However, there is no physical contact or attempt to harm or humiliate the opponent.

Campoeira Luanda matches generate a contagious energy inviting audience participation with singing and clapping. Even without knowing Portuguese or understanding exactly what each move and drumbeat means, the visual experience of friendly competition, physical exertion, and self-discipline inspire hope for a world of cooperation and mutual encouragement.

Kudos to the Brazilian Arts Foundation for a great introduction to Brazilian culture!

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