We are part of the Capoeira Angola Group "Liberdade de Vadiar", founded in the Brazilian cities of Recife and Rio de Janeiro by Contramestre Dirceu de Angola, original from Rio de Janeiro and a student of Mestre Manoel. Currently the group Liberdade de Vadiar has offices in Seville, Santander and Toulouse (France) and headquarters in Madrid.
What is Capoeira Angola?
Capoeira Angola is the traditional style of Capoeira, Afro-Brazilian art form born of the slaves brought from Africa to Brazil that combines elements of fighting, dancing, singing, music, theater and its own peculiar philosophy. It is characterized by faithfully preserving African traditions, from the original angolan N'Golo dance and others. It was developed in Brazil in the area of Salvador de Bahia through music, movement and traditional rituals and results in a unique blend of dance, fight, body expression and musicality.
The berimbau is the most important and characteristic musical instrument in Capoeira. As such, it keeps the tempo, sets the "toque" and commands the roda. It was brought from Africa by the Angolans and before being used in capoeira was used by itinerant merchants to attract buyers. It consists of a rigid wooden arch (the biriba is the most used) which tightens a wire, a dried gourd as a resonance box, a caxixi, a small stone or coin to vary the pitch, and a stick to tap the wire. The rigidity of the wood provides the tension in the wire, thus, for a high pitch, more tension is needed and therefore a thicker and more rigid stick, and for a lower pitch it would require a thin and more flexible stick.
The bateria in the roda of Capoeira Angola consists of the following instruments:
On November 20th is celebrated in Brazil the Day of Black Consciousness, conmemorating the death of Zumbi dos Palmares, in 1695.
When the slaves managed to escape from captivity after years of training their body, cultivating psychological resistance and holding it until the appropriate time, they got organized in the so-called quilombos, comunities of resistance of freed slaves, captured women, besides Indians and whites escaped from colonial justice.
The Quilombo of Palmares, founded by a group of runaway slaves in Pernambuco, with fertile lands, plenty of water and palm trees, was a strategic place from where one could see the entire region. Zumbi was born there, and was arrested in a fight with a group of explorers who raided the quilombo. At the age of fifteen he returned to Palmares, which already had a population of about 10,000 inhabitants. During those years there were growing government efforts to end with the quilombo, with no results, thanks to the great strength and organization of the inhabitants of Palmares, already led by Zumbi, who trained his men to fight and refused negotiation offers proposed by the government of Pernambuco, most of which would only be traps.
The final battle took place in 1694. Despite great methods of defense, the quilombo fell, although Zumbi escaped. One of his friends, imprisoned and tortured after the battle, revealed his whereabouts. Finally Zumbi was shot, having resisted and fought until the last minute. He became a myth of resistance, courage and bravery against injustice, a symbol of the struggle of the people and Afro-Brazilian culture.
Today Friday, 13 November, the life of Mestre Pastinha thanks to whom we are here learning the Capoeira Angola we know today, is celebrated.
Vicente Ferreira Pastinha (April 5th, 1889 to November 13th, 1981), son of Galician dad and Bahian mum, was an exceptional capoeirista, philosopher and great preserver of Capoeira Angola as we know it today. He fought throughout his life for his students to understand the practice, philosophy and tradition of capoeira in its original form, called "Capoeira Angola" by the large number of slaves from Angola through which it was developed.
He began learning capoeira with Mestre Benedito, an African Angolan. At the age of 13 he joined the navy, where he remained until he was 23. During these years he created his own art of survival.
In 1941 Pastinha founded his own academy of capoeira, the "Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola". During the following years he taught and promote the art in various states of Brazil and was part of the delegation that represented Brazil at the first Festival of Black Arts in Senegal in 1966. Among his most important students are Aberré, João Grande, João Pequenho and Curió.
In 1973, at the age of 84, Pastinha was betrayed by the authorities and finally expelled from the space that for 32 years was used for the teaching of Capoeira Angola, which went on to become a restaurant. He died in 1981, blind and poor, but without ever relinquishing his status as capoeirista angoleiro.
Ieeee! Last Saturday, on the occasion of Contramestre Dirceu second visit we enjoyed the first workshop on making Caxixis and Berimbaus.
With the dried gourds, junco and seeds and with patience and good hand, the mesh of the caxixi, can be woven. The result: a bell shaped basket, with a handle to fit on the fingers and a back made of dried pumpkin, filled with seeds. When shaken, it produces a sound that accompanies the berimbau.
A great afternoon which leaves us new knowledge and material for the group.