“Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, and is sometimes referred to as a game. It was developed in Brazil mainly by African descendants with native Brazilian influences, probably beginning in the 16th century.”

I started doing Capoeira in a gym in San Francisco in 1998, and I fell in love with it when I moved to Israel later that same year. I was dancing with a modern dance company in Tel Aviv, and taking a lot of ballet classes to fill in the gaps in my dance technique – I think I may have lost my mind if it wasn’t for Capoeira at that time! As opposed to all the abstract shapes and forms that dance classes were feeding me, Capoeira taught me how to move my body in relationship to the here and now. In the roda (the circle) there was a song and a beat keeping me in time, but my movements couldn’t be pre-choreographed because I had a partner to contend with and if I was too busy thinking about the aesthetics of my form, I was likely to end up with a leg or an arm in my face.

There are different approaches to Capoeira, the two major schools being Abada, which is what I practiced early on and which tends to be more combative, and Angola, which is softer but no less acrobatic and if anything more fluid and extremely beautiful. If you’re looking to do Capoeira, I suggest trying a few groups out and finding where you feel most at home – the energy of the group is the most important part of the practice, so make sure you find a context in which you feel good.

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