To Porto Alegre comes the authentic Bahia: capoeira and folkart
Diario de Noticias, Porto Alegre
10th March, 1959
Together with the figureheads of the river crafts of the São Francisco river, the best capoeira players of Bahia will be presented
SALVADOR, march From Glênio Peres, specially sent by us - Together with the famous figureheads of the river crafts of the São Francisco river, with pieces of folkart of Bahia, an exposition of engravings and illustrated poetry, will be going to Porto Alegre, also, a group made of the most famous capoeira players, from Salvador, for the demostrations on a public square in the capital of the pampas.
The trip of the bahian capoeiristas is practically agreed, thanks to the goodwill of the Board of Turism of Salvador, together with the most famous capoeira mestre, Pastinha, who with more than sixty years of age runs and acts in his Angola Academy. From this group of study and exercise of capoeira will be going around 10 players, authentic dancers and exponent of capoeira in Baia, together with musicians and the typical instruments needed for the demonstrations.
So that the readers of DN would have a preliminary explanation of what is capoeira, its history and importance in the customs of the northeast, we transcribe below an excellent article about the topic, signed by journalist Paulo Gil, from Diários Associados of Baía, and a great enthusiast of the next exposition taking place in Porto Alegre, in the coming April:
„CAPOEIRA – THE WEAPON OF [ATTACK] AND DEFENCE
With the slave ships came the first slaves from the region of Angola and with them capoeira - the weapon of attack and defence, possibly today the most popular of our folcloric manifestations.
Motive the touristic attraction, if it were properly exploited and supported by our authorities, capoeira could make part of our folk-calendar. Since there are various centres in town, it is not difficult for the tourist to get to know it close-by. It is sufficient for this to really be interested to learn of our human side. It is worth to emphasize that capoeira, save in the centres where «Angola» is practised, is loosing its character of a dance, of «vadiação», to return to what it was, in its origins.
Capoeira demands, to more or less accelerate the fight, a series of variations of instrument rhythms that command the game. That's where the designations of the rhythms come that we can always hear in capoeira centres: São Bento Grande, a fast game; São Bento Pequeno, a game that is almost a samba; Santa Maria, slow; Amazonas, middle; Iúna, crawling.
When foreign elements enter, we have a special rhythm, Banguela, for example, for the game where one of the players has a knife in his hand. In the past, when rival capoeira groups existed there was a special rhythm which alerted the capoeiristas for any eventuality: for example the arriving of someone not friendly for the roda. It was Cavalaria.
FAMOUS PLAYERS AND LEGENDS
Diverse histories circulated in respect of the players that had the "closed body" against bullet and knife. Besouro, Pantalona, Cazumbá and Samuel Querio-de-Deus, famous challenge- [..] Valdemar, Sete-Molas, Traíra and most respected in the past. Among the current ones are Pastinha, [..], are the names Mestre Bimba, who turns up dust.
Pastinha is already an old man of more than 60 years and despite this dances in the Centre of Capoeira Angola every Sunday. Pastinha has his Centre in Pelourinho, where conserving the pure tradition of Angola, transmits to his students the same steps that have marked the life of a lot of slaves in mills and senzalas. When he dances, he does this with a virtuous manner, with perfection of almost a ballerina and during the turns he makes on the ground he doesn't dirty his white clothes. This is the great quality of mestres: to dance without dirtying ones clothes.
Like Pastinha in his Centre, we have also in Liberdade, two masters who dedicate to the teaching of "Angola". These are Valdemar and Sete Molas. The last one if famous for the cunning with which he plays, from this the nickname he is known by.
The practitioners of Angola play only for fun. The search to only amuse themselves and there are no other rules besides touching the ground with feet and hands.
HOW CAPOEIRA WAS BORN
Capoeira was for the black slaves a weapon of attack and defense against the europeans, who didn't know of it. In this fight the hands were replaced by feet and head. They had the characteristics of a really mortal fight with their devastating kicks.
Forseeing the consequences that could come from the constant practise of this game, the sugarmill masters - owners of the land and the slaves - wanted to extinguish it with the prohibition of its practise. Despite the efforts they did not manage to distroy it because the negroes camouflaged it. They transformed the fight into a sort of happy dance by behind which they trained polishing the kicks to the sound of handclaps and songs. The master did not perceive the fight in its new aspect. He liked to see them play "Angola".
And capoeira replaced with this character of a dance.