The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts March 10, 2006

Capoeira Conference Moves and Grooves
Flipping Out: Capoeira participant shows off his skills.

Oberlin was busy this weekend hosting the Moving Through Sacred Spaces: Capoeira Angola Conference. The conference provided Oberlin students with a fantastic opportunity to meet and learn from very talented Capoeira Angola teachers, including Chicago de João Grande, OC ’92, Justin Emeka, OC ’95 and current theater professor, Mestre João Grande, a renowned Angolero.

Planning for the conference has been in progress since this Winter Term when a group of Oberlin students traveled to Philadelphia to study capoeira with Chicago, who had trained Oberlin students during previous Winter Terms.

Since then, the students have all worked extremely hard at fundraising, budgeting and planning for the conference, which has been presented by Oberlin Rhythms Of Resistance and advised by Adenike Sharpley. This summer OROR will continue their study of Capoeira Angola for two weeks in Brazil.

The conference kicked off last Friday with the opening roda (pronounced Ho-Dah), the ritual circle of capoeira where two players engage in a conversation of movement, dance and song, in which a number of students participated. Many also came just to watch.

Chicago de João Grande provided the audience with a brief history and explanation of Capoeira Angola, including the crucial fact that capoeira is not a sport or a show and usually does not involve an audience at all. For that reason, in order to incorporate the audience in the roda and create a more authentic environment, Chicago taught everyone a few of the songs typically sung in a roda. The roda officially began when Mestre João Grande arrived.

The rest of the conference consisted of workshops in beginning capoeira and more advanced movement and music, as well as the panel discussion “What Can We Learn From The Roda?” On Saturday night, the ’Sco hosted a party corresponding to the conference that featured the reggae band Night Train.

A number of students participated in the workshops, even those who were somewhat unfamiliar with capoeira. Senior Ricardo Lagomasino said, “It was totally awesome. I’m still sore. I have never moved my body like that before and I want to continue doing it.”

Overall, the conference was a success. According to first-year Danielle Taylor, a conference coordinator, the weekend went really well. “The opening roda was really great,” she said. “We saw new faces from Oberlin in addition to capoeiristas from Detroit, New York and Indiana.”

Senior Ben Malament, also a conference coordinator, commented on the number of Oberlin alumni that took part in the conference. He was also pleased with the conference’s success. “Because Mestre João Grande was here,” he said, “students were able to see what Capoeira Angola really is and how a roda really works.”

If you did not make it to the conference, be sure to keep an eye out for other OROR productions.


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