After a 10 year absence, the Center for Africana Studies and Culture (CASC) in the IU School of Liberal Arts is excited to announce the return of Mestre Iuri Santos’ Afro-Brazillian Martial Art Capoeira workshops on the IUPUI campus.
What is Capoeira?
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art incorporating dance, acrobatic moves, and music developed by African and Afro-descended peoples in Brazil in the 16th century. Capoeira is at its core an art of liberation centered on principles of community and the transmission of intergenerational knowledge. Samba, the dance and music synonymous with Rio’s Carnival and Brazilian national culture, also has its origins in Afro-Brazilian rhythms, movements, and traditions.
Capoeira Angola is played in a circle called a “roda”(pronounced “hoda”). The roda consists of a circle of players who are playing instruments, singing, and doing a series of dance and martial arts movements. Theatrical antics, competition, and trickery make for an exciting show, while the traditional African rhythms and singing keep the energy levels high and lead the game from its slow, somber beginning to its lively crescendo.
As part of CASC’s mission to offer Black cultural arts programming, these workshops are open to faculty, staff, and students. All are invited to attend to learn more about these rich cultural traditions by learning the basic movements and trying your skills in the roda.
“I jumped at the opportunity to get Mestre Iuri back into the fold, this is great for fitness, cultural learning, and fun!” CASC and Africana Studies Program director Dr. Leslie Etienne shared. “Also, as we build relationships with colleagues at the Federal University in Salvador, Bahia, and its Milton Santos Institute, this type of cultural engagement is great context and grounding.”
About the workshop
In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to learn about the history of Capoeira, its music, and its movements. The session will begin with a brief talk about the roots of Capoeira and some of the basic elements and concepts that make up part of this art. The practical portion of the workshop will introduce participants to Capoeira movement techniques, as well as the interpretation of Capoeira music and musical instruments. Finally, the event will end with a brief capoeira circle (roda) and a demonstration. Registration is required to participate.
About the facilitator
Instruction for this beginning level course is led by Mestre Iuri Santos, a Master of Capoeira. Mestre Iuri is origianally from Salvador, Bahia, and grew up in the Brotas neighborhood immersed in the culture and practice of Capoeira Angola. He first experienced Capoeira Angola in 1988, in the front room of fort Santo Antônio, an historic building in the heart of the area where Capoeira Angola was born. He spent his years there learning from some of the oldest and most legendary masters of Capoeira and it was there that he achieved the title of Contra Mestre in Grupo Acupe Capoeira Angola in 1998.
Relocating to Brown County, Indiana, in 1998, he founded North Start Capoeira in 2005. Mestre Iuri previously taught in the Africana Studies Program in 2013.
“I am excited about being back with IU School of Liberal Arts Africana Studies Program sharing this cultural art form and martial art with the community,” said Mestre Iuri Santos.
For the 2023-24 academic year Mestre Iuri is teaching a limited number of partipants to play instruments, sing songs in Portuguese, and do the movements while also learning about the history and culture of Brazil.
“Thank you Mestre luri Hart Santos for this outstanding cultural experience,” said Latosha Rowley, a fall 2023 Capoeira Workshop participant. “I learned that Capoeira is Afro-Brazilian cultural martial arts that was outlawed at one time to make revolt of those who were enslaved more difficult. Those who were enslaved used this art form for self-defense but also cultural expression. I learned about the history of the Brazilian people and way of life.”
“The exercising was challenging, but I was reassured that it takes some time to master the art form. The dance fighting was beautiful poetry in motion with strength and grace demonstrated. I had a chance to play a few instruments like the tambourine, called pandeiro, an instrument that was like hand drum that helps you keep the heartbeat of the sound for the movements. I learned how to hold my hands to maintain a certain energy and flow of the sounds for Capoeira.”
“We sang Brazilian songs and I quickly learned that it is difficult to sing a song in a different language and keep the correct beat with the instrument. I learned that I need more practice, therefore, I look forward to continuing my Capoeira learning during the Spring semester.”
Another fall 2023 workshop participant, Zharia Hasan Bey shared, “The elements that made Capoeira a great experience were the authenticity of the instructor and the music that was played. This allowed me to expand my worldview on a few things, including the experience that the instructor had shared with us and stories of the location where he was from.”
“This experience made me think differently about how different cultures are perceived and made me realize that there is so much more out there in the world than just the bubble I live in. I would 100% recommend this workshop to others who are willing to try something new and experience something very different and cool!”
The spring 2024 Capoeira Workshop with Mestre Iuri Santos will begin in February and take place in the Education and Social Work building (ES1125) on campus. Faculty, staff, and students interested can participate by contacting Dr. Les Etienne at firstname.lastname@example.org.