The "seven traditional Old Masters of Bahia" were:
M Gato Preto
M João Pequeno
M Bom Cabrito
M Paulo dos Anjos
Saturday, 1st December 1984
Circo Voador, Lapa - 21h - Photos of Damião Ribeiro
Persecuted in the beginning of the century, the art survived in the form of folklore and today is applauded in the rodas that open
Under the Archs of Lapa the consecration of capoeira
Order-Law - The practise of the art of capoeiragem is prohibited under the penalty of deportatio to Fernando de Noronha [prison island]. In the beginning of the century it was like that. The repression to capoeira framed in the Penal Code provoked its near extinction in Rio and Recife, but it survived camuflaged in Bahia under the form of folklore and explodes with energy in Circo Voador (under the Archs of Lapa - tel: 256-2555/245-3585), that ends tomorrow the I Encounter of Art-Capoeira - Hot Feet - Cold Head, supported by Inacem and by Lubrax.
In total 70 capoeiristas from seven States, with their delegations came to Rio on last Tuesday, today with the seven traditional Old Masters of Bahia. Among them Mestre Waldemar da Liberdade, the oldest of all, considered the most important after the death of Mestre Pastinha.
The arrival of capoeiristas, for one of the creators of Circo Voador, Perfeito Fortuna, realizes an old dream, outlines in the summer of 81: "It was in Arpoador. I met Orlando Miranda (SNT) who advised me to make a show of capoeira. Through the group Manhas e Manias I met with Mestre Camisa, from Centro de Capoeira Senzala, we made the show. It was a cosmical hallucination. People from all around, from the son of Israel Klabin to the man from the slum. There was a mystic climate provoked by people. And it was exactly what we looked for, something which everybody could participate, which wasn't this ghetto. I became friends with these people and understood that our business is capoeira, since it is the form of bodily expression of Brazil. It's not understandable, then, that the people come here, with techniques learned abroad, wanting to 'work' the body of others. If Brazil is not a fool, we would have a splendid body. We spoke to Inaem and MEC, to work to remove the stigma from capoeira, to enjoy the richness that we have. In the United States, Japan and Canada there's people doing capoeira. What's truth is that capoeira transformed into break, or break is one of the sprouts of capoeira. The two look alike", tells Perfeito.
Rafael Flores Viana, Rafa ("the nickname is a tradition of capoeira") the inspirer of the Senzala Group, considers his work "a product of fascination for capoeira." Bahian, living in Rio, he remembers that his first contact with capoeira was through a fight: "I was eight years old and saw my cousin defending himself with capoeira gestures. The image stayed with me. I came to live in Rio, got to know a stronghold of capoeira in Cinelándia, the academy of Waldo Santana. I trained with my brother on the terrace of a building we lived in, and we went to a pernambucan stronghold on Mauá Square, of Mestre Marcelino. The friends came along - Gato, Gil, Cláudio, Peixinho, Mosquito, Borracha, Itamar, Nestor, Garrincha and Camisa. The group became solid and already completes 20 years."
Rafael remembers the force of capoeira that existed in Rio was in the North Zone with Mestre Arthur Emídio, Mário da Bonfim and Paraná. In the South Zone, only three students, of Mestre Sinhozinho: "All of them had an historic value. When we gave capoeira to the boys of the South Zone, we perceived that their difficulty is greater".
Rafa explains that, in Senzala, a teacher graduates after 7 to 10 years of learning. And he emphasizes the making of the first group of capoeira women in Brazil: "They are all from Rio".
A jump in the air, the smile on the face, the art of capoeira
Liberdade, the name of the Mestre
Perfeito and Rafa warn: "People such as him cannot be interviews in the convencional manner. You have to listen what he is saying, how he has fun, things like that. He does everything a child does. Without censureship".
And Mestre Waldemar da Liberdade leaves the roda, open space, sits and starts talking: "There's berimbau that folks put the sound of the gourd to it and it's no good. I make berimbaus for four [fourty!] years, only berimbau of taipoca, cafezeiro-brabo. I provide for the Market (Salvador). How is it made? You take the wood, peel it, leave it dry. Small gourd give a small berimbau. The gunga speaks loudly. I like them all. I like more a gunga to accompany my strong voice. Strong and full voice. Small gourd is viola. Well stretched she speaks sharply. More tired, the sound becomes slower. My berimbau I put together only when it's time to sing".
"In 53 I came to Rio for the first time, to the show of Caymmi, It So Happens I Am Bahian. This is the second time I came to Rio."
- Did the Government help you, Mestre Waldemar?, asks Perfeito.
- Thank God, no. I wasn't well-compensated. They asked me to record, because I could die and I had to leave a recording. I didn't get anything good when I was strong. I appear because I have a family; I have to have some change. I live in a room with the family. The house collapsed due to the rain. Candomblé? No, I don't like it. The greatest capoeirista was Besouro. I learned capoeira with Siri de Manga [Mangue]. He was a good capoeirista, but died of fright for fighting. He had the fear of a damned man! The best was Besouro, because of mandinga. I learned berimbau under the a tree of a grove, there was a beating all afternoon. I learned like this, out of doors. Who doesn't sing good, for me is not a Mestre. If Pastinha was good? (he laughs) He was. I knew him as a president of a school of capoeira. Pastinha became greedy, separated from others, didn't let anybody be Mestre".
"I learned capoeira in 1936, played until 1968. In 1940 I was a terror. When I die you will stay here, taking care [of capoeira]."