Capoeira: soul of Brazil in multicultural Melbourne

Capoeira is an artistic form of martial art dancing which shows incredible fluidity and physical movement, a legacy formed from freed African slaves mixing with Brazilian natives in a free dance celebrating movement, music and strength. On Wednesday April 20 2011, a $1,000 Sports Without Borders grant gave young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in Collingwood an opportunity to participate in Capoeira via an interactive workshop.

With help from Capoeira Arts Organisation and Filhos de Bahia Capoeira, approximately 35 young people took part in the workshop, run by Mestre Amen Santo, a native born Bahia Brazilian who runs a Capoeria School in Los Angeles (Capoeria Batuque Of these 35 young people, nationalities included Sudanese, Somalian, Liberian, Brazilian and Australian. The ages of the young people involved ranged from three to 14, and in the audience were mothers, aunties, brothers, sisters, cousins and community members.

Eleven Sudanese students have reached grading status in the sport, after having been involved in the program for at least one year, attending classes on Monday evenings at the Yarra Youth Centre in Fitzroy or Saturday morning classes at the Filhos da Bahia Capoeira School in Collingwood. Students from Somalia and Liberia who have recently joined the program at a more intensive level (attending both classes), are expected to grade in the near future.

In addition, there were approximately 11 other students from various other backgrounds including Brazil and Australia who graded too, having participated in general paid classes for young people at the Filhos da Bahia Capoeira School.

“It’s important that the workshop and grading were combined, as these young people will share culture and have been doing so throughout the year”, said organiser Mestre Val Boa Morte.

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