19?? - Was born in Bahia Joel Lourenço do Espírito Santo.
1946 - In newspapers O Jornal, A Manhã and Diário de Notícias of Rio de Janeiro of 4th July he appears among the despatches of the municipal workers trust fund.
1947 - In the O Jornal (RJ) of 11th June and 12 October is listed to the General Office of the Administration, Personnel Department.
1953 - On 31st May he appears in the article of Flan «The Art of «Mother's Boys»» by Antônio Carlos (Edison Carneiro) - read below!
1955 - 23rd January: Diário de Notícias: «New elements of the cariocan folklore» by Edison Carneiro. 19th July: Diário Oficial: licences given to employees: Joel Lourenço do Espírito Santo - Worker - 10 days, from 13th July 1955 to 22nd July 1955.
1961 - O Jornal of 18th July talks how his group participated in the I Folklore Festival. 24th-25th July: Leitura: folklorical parade in homage to the Council: Capoeira (Bahia), of Joel Lourenço.
1962 - Dias Gomes employed him and other capoeiristas (among them M Paraná) to the Payer of Promises in Nacional Comedy Theatre in Rio.
1963 - Apresentation in the Ministry of the Culture. Jornal do Commercio, 29th May.
1977 - On 27th February he recorded with his Group Joel Lourenço the disc called Samba de Caboclo - RJ in São João de Meriti (listen above!).
1980 - On 14th March he made an exhibition during the opening of the Folklore Museum of Edison Carneiro. O Globo, 15th March.
2003 - With his wife Ismarina do Espírito Santo appears in a legal process.
20?? - Died.
«The Art of «Mother's Boys», 1953
«The Art of the «Mother's Boys»»
Antônio Carlos (Edison Carneiro)
Flam, 31st May, 1953
"Buddy, Make Sense! Capoeira Will Kick you..."
A great figure: the old Antenor dos Santos - president of Portela [samba school; 1948-50 president, afterwards vice-president] and capoeira enthusiast. On his right hand, the old guy shows the "dobrão", the imperial coin of 40 reals, that the berimbau player leans against the wire at times to get certain notes. On the left, the stick with what the wire is made vibrate and the straw bag which is called caxixi. To the side you can see the cut out gourd that serves as a resonance box.
A Game of Dexterity and Intelligence That the Negros from Angole Left Us - A "Vadiação" of Bahia Ecounters Ambience in the Federal District - Birth of Capoeira: the Freedman Used This Angolan Custom To Survive - The Capoeirista Fights With the Inferior Limbs - The Historical Type of the Capoeirista - A Singular Group - The Rhythms of Capoeira - A Form of Individual Competition
Capoeira is capoeira
It's a way of a competitive fight, that is shown in the "rings", to which is given, for good or for worse, the name of capoeira. It's obvious that this capoeira has something to do with people's capoeira, folkloric, with african origins, which is still found with relative purity in Bahia - specially the exploitation of feet to put down the adversary - but it also includes many other kicks, taken from other types of fights, so that from capoeira, only the name stays. The black Bimba, from Bahia, was not the first to attempt this fusion of various means to fight under to name of capoeira and, probably, will not be the last. All these attempts, however, although they desfigure capoeira, are destined to be unsuccessful.
Indeed, the capoeira game is a competition of delicacy and intelligence, and not of brute force. It isn't pos-
Photo caption: But this a good defense against the "chapa de pé". Velhinho gets low and takes advantage of the occasion to take down Compride with a "rasteira"
sible to imagine the capoeirista grabbing the adversary nor giving his decisive or fatal kicks. Capoeirista plays from afar, doing more "denials" and pirouettes than really attacking, but is always ready to use the carelessness of the partner to put him on the ground, with a "cabeçada", an "aú", a "rabo darraia"... The skill, the ploy, the self-domination, the attention and the vigilance, and certainly the agility and the promptness, are for the capoeirista the more important conditions than the simple muscular force. One of the identifications of the good capoeirista is to know how to play without dirtying the clothes, without losing the hat, although the game, as it's known requires jumps, somersaults, drops and other resources that keep the player always close to the ground.
The capoeira that we report in this coverage is the people's capoeira, from Angola, in the form that it took in Bahia - a "vadiação" between friends.
Capoeira de Angola
Capoeira is the Angolan negro's legacy.
Men of great vivacity, intelligent and competent, these negros, soft-spoken, with a bad complexion, tall and with thin legs, were famous for not liking the servile work. Indeed, it was with turbulence they subjected themselves finally to the new state: the most always gathered in quilombos, including the one in Palmares, and in the slave uprisings. They were more customed to the work in the cities, as vendors and couriers, hired hands for all kinds of jobs... They came from a region where there was nearly any grazing and cattle raising, so that the best yielding male profession was that of weapons, as personal guards for the king, defending some potentate against his enemies.
Capoeira, in Africa, was a game of dexterity for the youth, one of many forms to prepare for the war. It was the easiest way and for this, the most popular. It required only attention, agility and promptness, qualities that were not difficult to encounter in people who were in the first stage of social development. As national sport, capoeira could, if needed, serve as a weapon, for the attack and defense. And as game it was a one of a kind fight, it didn't
Photo caption: This is the "aú", a sommersault with which the capoeirista clears the adversary. Joel attacks and Comprido defends with a terrible kick - the "cabeçada"
require any kind of official organization to spread among the population.
Coming to Brazil, the Angola brought with it its national customs, and among them capoeira. However, the appearance of the capoeirista as a social type didn't coinside with the arrival of the Angolan groups to the Brazilian ports. The capoeirista was a product of the society of the time - and more exactly of the urban milieu of the colony and of the Empire, - and it was going to get its freedom by fact or law, so that Angola went to this custom of its birth land. Still today the capoeiristas refer to the "Mother's boys", the godsons or protectees of the whites, who were already standing out from the mass of blacks, but still mixed up, officially, in slavery. To make themselves respected, to establish themselves as individuals, to survive, Angola revived capoeira.
And, with it, batuque or pernada, which with time becomes the instrument of cariocan defense.
A group of bahians
The old Antenor dos Santos, member of the Directory of the Samba Portela, a sailor, from Minas Gerais, is the group's enthusiast. He has been many time in Bahia and, from all that he saw there, nothing looked better to him than capoeira. Healthy, good-humoured, the old Antenor, who doesn't feel like, due to his age, to meet an adversary in the arena, is happy with being being the group's enthusiast.
Joel Lourenço do Espírito Santo, bahian, his son-in-law, a civil servant of the 11th District of the Works of the Town Hall, residing on Itaúba Street, 243 (Madureira), brings together and directs the bahian capoeiristas who are found in the Federal District. Maybe it's this black guy, amoung all his companions, who is the most obvious candidate for the Angolan legacy. Agile as a cat, skillful, combative, and personally a great "soldier", even when dropping on the ground and when running, swaying the body, he resembles the Angola celebrated in the capoeira chronicles.
The capoeirista, in general, is undisciplined, individual, not too firm in his dealings and very inclined to consider himself a "star". Martinez Júnior, for example, tall and skinny, physically the classical type of the capoeirista, confirms to have challenged Joe Louis [1914-1981, american boxer]...
To play with a capoeira
He's a two-faced guy...
Although you can talk about a boss in this game, Joel Lourenço knows the secret of how to lead the group and deserves the trust of everyone. He doesn't command them - how to give orders, for example, to the old Henrique, the "ace" of capoeira? - but he settles the exhibitions, goes to their meetings and gets them to the agreed places for the "vadiação".
The number and the identity of capoeiristas varies a lot and probably there are, on cariocan lands, between 20 ad 30 fighters, all of them from Bahia. And among them is always, as the organizer of the "vadiação", Joel Lourenço.
The father-in-law, the old Antenor dos Santos, is not missed among the spectators. He is always animating the game, [..] heat to the demonstrations of the prodigious agility of Angola.
The roda of [..] is complete when [..] of pandeiros and berimbaus.
This instrument is very curious. African in origin, it is made of an arc supplied with a chord, a hollow gourd [..] that the player, moving it closer to or farther from the body [..] as a resonance box. The chord is made to vibrate with a stick, bringing [..], in the hand, a little straw sack full of seeds, called caxixi. To get other notes out of his one-stringed instrument, the berimbau player is using a coin that can only still be seen in the capoeira rodas - a copper coin of 40 reals from the time of the Empire.
The capoeiristas arranged a circle and two [..] squatted in front of the berimbaus. Someone sings a "chula",
Fall, fall, Catarina
jump from the sea, come see Dalina...
and right after that the players do skillfully a turn around the ring and the one in front has the priviledge to attack first.
The game solicitates the whole body. The good capoeirista doesn't lay hands on his adversary, and doesn't use them other than to sustain his own body and help his movement. If however there's some enemy, he can use them in the "finger in the eye" and in "the neck kick". But the great weapon of the capoeirista is in his feet. With these, he puts the contendor down on the arena, in a swift "rasteira"; kicks him in his trunk or in the face, violently, with the "chibata", the straightened foot falling from high up, or with a "chapa de pé", the plant on the right foot shaken vigorously; hits him in the chest, with both feet, in "bananeira"; or repels his attacks with successive "aús", terrible sommersaults because they extend the attack area of the capoeirista... Flexing the feet back, with the art of a cat, the capoeirista defends himself from the kicks when they are made against him - and comes back to attack, because any defense, in capoeira, is an attack, a new deception to put down the unattentive adversary and put him out of the combat.
All this deception, this craftiness of the capoeirista, would look only as "vadiagem" for the spectator of more conventional of "rings". But the "vadiação" is a simple training and the capoeirista of Bahia plays around among friends, without the worrying to measure forces, nor to get medals or prizes. If the situation requires, however, and if there is space where to "spread wings", the capoeirista transforms. And then - who knows? - maybe there will be a shiny flash of a dagger's pointed blade in the air...
The rhythm of capoeira
Berimbaus and pandeiros accompany the special songs of capoeira, inspiration and rhythm for the game of Angola. The harmony produced in the process is unmistakeable. The capoeiristas distinguish two types of rhythms - Angola and São Bento, which is still divided to "big" and "small". The one of Angola, more common, is a slower rhythm, favoring more occasions for tricks and deception characteristical of capoeira; the São Bento one, however, with already has a brazilian caliber, is faster and give the game a certain hard-fought, vibrant, vilonet air.
The songs are not essencially different from the ones that accompany other pastimes. A phrase with solo, another with the chorus, and a little iniciative to give some new vitality to it, - and the song is ready.
Who hasn't seen come see
licuri-palm give dendê-oil
Óia you are the urchin
Urchin is you
How's it going, how's it going,
how's it going, what's up?
Joel Lourenço composed a capoeira song, which has has been well received by his companions, because it shows the capoeira's attachment to the berimbau or gunga. The chorus asks: "Who's going to buy me this gunga?", while Joel Lourenço tells the solo:
- It comes from Bahia
- My grandpa gave it to me
- And Maria sent it
- I won't sell it to no man
without any worry about the rhyme.
There are, among the capoeiristas, true artists of the berimbau. The old Henrique Pequeno, famous capoeirista, master of many of who now stand up, produces berimbau and from these pulls accords of great beauty, with extraordinary expertise. Martinez Júnior, "Velhinho", and "Cobrinha Verde" are also berimbau or gunga "virtuosos". The sailor "Comprido", who has his shirt decorated with a beautiful figure of a woman, accompanies the others on the pandeiro.
It's with pride that the capoeirista sings:
I am a son of Bahia...
Photo legend: Comprido, with his spectacular shirt, is a master on the pandeiro, but also knows how to play berimbau. Notice the position of the stick and of the caxixi (right hand) and of the "dobrão" (between the thumb and index finger of the left hand)
Photo legend 2: This is the "bananeira". Joel attacks Comprido, who defends himself by pulling back his body