Monday, August 15, 2011

Funky Sexy Manifesto #5 Become a Capoeirista

My Funky Sexy Manifesto: Survivor Resolutions

My Survivor Resolutions were created the day after I got my cancer-free diagnosis. It is my list of things that I just can't wait any more. (I refuse to wait to do any more.) Some of them are a little crazy and others more sane. For the case of privacy, and because I work in the public sector, I have chosen not to post some of these resolutions. (I am a teacher. All the media needs is another teacher scandal.) However, my resolutions are legal. (Wink! Wink!)

As promised, I am inspired to write about these Funky Sexy resolutions.

#5 Become a Capoeirista

After a meeting for writers a few months ago, I became inspired with an idea for an Afro-Brazilian story. Given that I have never been to Brazil or Africa and I do not speak any Portuguese, I very much wished to learn more about this culture. What do I know about Afro-Brazilian culture? My fiance has been playing classical Brazilian guitar as well as maracatu percussion for almost four years now so between his performances and the music around the house, I know a bit about Afro-Brazilian culture but not enough. I felt, to write a story based in this culture, I needed to immerse myself. So I decided to do some research.

Enter C A P O E I R A!!!

I've been mystified by Capoeira for many years. Long since the mystery of lore, it lured me in with its hypnotic and repetitive rhythms, it's roda (circle where the game is played), acrobatic dance-like movements, and haunting Yoruba melodies. The instruments of used in this martial artform are of African-origin and look ancient. They have names like pandeiro and berimbao. Experienced capoeiristas are strong and very in-shape.

I very muched wanted to be around it. Yet, I was intimidated. About ten years ago, I attended one capoeira class where all the students looked professional, no one took the time show me the moves, and it required a bus, two subways, and a streetcar to attend. Then, I moved a few years later to a much closer capoeira school. This capoeira class was walking distance from where I lived yet it was extremely intense. I was expected to "follow along" and with no instruction left the class sweaty and sore.

So then years later, this summer, I decided to attend a class at a school. This time, the instructor took me aside and gave me stuff that I could work on. Given that it was not that long ago (a month ago in fact), I struggled to keep up but I managed to complete repetitive moves with some modifications. I learned how to jinga with some degree of coherence.

I visited another location of the same school and again found that the instructor took time to show me the moves. Refreshing! I decided to stick with it.

I like how Capoeira makes me feel-- like a strong, limber, sexy warrior princess. I feel like I can take anything on. I feel confident and poised. Although at first I was quite worried about my energy level and keeping up and there are times when I felt quite winded, I have grown to appreciate the "little, slow steps" and progress that I am beginning to make. Capoeira takes an incredible amount of upper body strength and some flexibility too. It's an amazing workout. I am getting a little more confidence when I get into the roda (circle) each time. I want to learn how to do a hand stand and the splits and perfect my cartwheel.

Roda Feminina 2007 from Brazil

I am practicing kicks and learning Portuguese words for moves. I am learning the instruments (s-l-o-w-l-y) and can hum to the songs sung in call and response in Yoruba. I don't know the words yet but I'll learn.

No comments: