What is Capoeira Angola?
Capoeira Angola has its roots in Bantu traditions, carried to Brazil by enslaved Africans. In the captivity of slavery-era Brazil, Africans disguised capoeiras power as a joking and playful acrobatic dance. In the remote maroon societies, quilombos, the practice was cultivated as a form of resistance and self-defense. Prior to the turn of the century, capoeira was outlawed in Brazil, stigmatized as dangerous gang activity. It remained banned until the 1930s when the practice was brought into schools and academies. Vincente Ferreira Pastinha, otherwise known as Mestre Pastinha, codified the movements and philosophy of Capoeira Angola, founding his first school in 1941. Decades later, two forms of capoeira became dominant in Brazil—Capoeira Angola, descended from Mestre Pastinha, and Capoeira Regional or Contemporanea, descended from Mestre Bimba. Both retain martial aspects integrated with dance and music played on traditional instruments. In the United States, capoeira came into a popular awareness alongside break dancing and voguing on New York City streets of the 1980s. Its fluid physical dialogue inspired artists such as Keith Haring. In 1990, Mestre Joao Grande, a protégé of Mestre Pastinha, found a positive reception for establishing a Capoeira Angola community in the United States.
Who is FICA DC?
In 1995, Mestre Cobra Mansa together with Mestre Valmir Damasceno and Mestre Jurandir Nascimento founded FICA to preserve, promote, and research Capoeira Angola. The mission is supported by a dedicated community that maintains a school in the Howard University and Shaw neighborhood of Washington DC. Hosting yearly conferences and countless events that diffuse awareness for the rich history of capoeira and Afro-Brazilian culture, FICA DC remains central to a worldwide movement connecting practitioners across the US, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, Mozambique, and Russia among other nations.
What is a Roda?
Two players in low flowing rolls, high flying acrobatics, strategic attacks, well timed escapes, closed bodies, feigned exposures, playful smiles, and flashes of insight characterize the game of capoeira. Holding together all of its dialogue in motion, is the rhythmic cadence of traditional instruments accompanying invocation and call and response singing. The sum of all these elements make up a “roda” or circle of capoeira which intends to draw in a joyful participation from players and audience members alike.