Pastinha, 75 years old, Continues to Be the «Mestre of Capoeira»
Salvador - 75 years old, and after having shown to multiple generations what capoeira os, the known and already international "Mestre Pastinha" will leave the magistracy of the authentic capoeira de Angola, affirming however that will not completely abandon the "ginga", as not to loose the rhythm and the "old form".
Vicente Ferreira Pastinha - this is his name - is the son of a spaniard and since 10 years old has dedicated himself to capoeira, currently writing a book, where in his humble language, relates the facts and curiosities that he had noted down during his sixty five years of "kicks," spent, mostly, in his academy, on Pelourinho hillside.
To Leave, Never
«I will not abandon capoeira - says Pastinha when being approached by the reporter - I am only thinking to distance myself from the leadership of the academy and give exhibitions, since my sight is becoming worse and it is no good for these things any longer».
He Was a Sailor
Vicente Ferreira Pastinha is bahian, born on 3rd [5th!] April 1889, in the Capital [of Bahia]. He is the youngest and the only living of the three children of couple José-Eugenia Sinhó Pastinha, he a spaniard who established himself on the business market and she from Santo Amaro da Purificação.
Pastinha has good memories of the School of Arts and Crafts, where he learned the first letters, and dedicated himselg to the painting, coming later to exercise the profession, «since capoeirista never was a profession and those times who practised it was considered a malandro».
12 years old, his father put him in the School of Naval Apprenticeship, where he stayed until almost 20 years old. He remembers that, in school, his salary was 75 thousand-reals, of which he received only 30 since the rest the government deducted. Of this money, he put 20 thousand-reals to the Caixa Economica bank and, with what was left, he went on his "binges" on Sundays.
Also in the Marines, he had his first contact with music, learning to play the "horn", so much so that he joined school's little band. And with pride he speaks of his master of music, prof. Anacleto Vidal da Cunha, father of the known clinical medic Eduardo Vidal da Cunha, recently deceased.
Leaving the school, he made a living with the profession he had learned in the School of Arts and Crafts. He became a painter and, painting here and there, "defended himself", managing enough money to sustain himself. Then he became a capoeirista.
What is Capoeira
The definition given by the mestre capoeirista about the dance is curious:
«Capoeira - he said - is like politics. There are people who want to be above others, to collect confidence, out of which arise the misunderstantings bringing in other aspects».
What is capoeira? Is it a dance or a fight? We asked.
«Its origin is african, its music is from the same package of candomblé and batuque. It gives joy, therefore the music is necessary. And the instruments that accompany it are: birimbau, pandeiro, caxixi, reco-reco, agogô, atabaque and viola. It's a fight, in hate, and then the music is neglected».
How He Learned
It was an old african, who resided close to his house, in the old Laranjeiras street, his first capoeira teacher, this when he was only 10 years old. Always when he had a break from school, or when he rested his paintbrush, he ran to the black mestre to get to know new kicks, new gingas and other rhythms.
His history of a capoeirista starts here. Later, when he had time, he searched for his trusted friends («capoeira is played only with friends, he says») to have fun, always having an eye out for the Police, who had them on the list of malandros. So it was until 1941, when he founded his own academy, in Brotas, uniting a group of interested friends. From Brotas, Pastinha took his group to the New Town, afterwards to the Workers Centre in Maciel de Baixo. But Pastinha's success came in Pelourinho, 19, where he went 10 years ago.
The Pelourinho hillside, for its topography, showing the Bahia of 400 years ago with the same pavement on which D. João VI, is already a tourist attraction. There, also, is Pastinha's academy, which name is known all over the world. Who goes to the academy on Sundays sees tourists always. These are people from other States of Brazil, from Germany, from North America, France, China, Asia and other countries, all interested to get to know the secrets - passed on in the songs - of capoeira. From all the four corners of the world the letters come, the most wanting to know if capoeira is a dance or a fight.
Mestre Vicente Ferreira Pastinha showed contentment to see capoeira take the new impulse, leaving the street, leaving the mud to go to higher (ground) rodas. He told it's a pleasure to see white people and with ties to give kicks to the rhythm of Angola. When saying goodbye to the reporter, he affirmed with firmness:
«Capoeira is for men, boys and women; only those who don't want to don't learn!»