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August 19, 2009 > Capoeira celebration

Capoeira celebration

By Ritu Jha
Photos By Courtesy of Jessamyn Cruz and Todd Fuller

What makes "Capoeira" different from other martial arts forms? Music, indeed!

The Brazilian martial art called Capoeira is unique, working with the rhythms of music that requires the practitioner to stay alert and focused while performing. "We have to keep our five senses open and be aware of what is going on around us," says Leilani Alfaro, assistant instructor.

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that originated in Brazil sometime after the 16th century. The musical side of Capoeira involves playing traditional percussive instruments such as the Berimbau, Atabaque and Pandeiro.

Creativity is important using basic forms of movement such as kicks, sweeps and head strikes, and rocking back and forth known as Ginga.

According to Jojo Villanueva, promotion director and instructor, of Roots of Brazil Capoeira Group of Union City, Hollywood movies have included this art form. He teaches Capoeira at Ruggieri Senior Center year round through a program run by Union City Leisure Services. "We teach ages six to adult," says Villanueva.

Every year at this time a Capoeira showcase takes place and this year's "Batizado Celebration" event will be held on Sunday, August 30, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at the Ruggieri Senior Center in Union City.

Demonstrations, live music, DJ music, photo exhibits, vendors' shops and complimentary food and drinks, will all be part of the celebration. Students will be introduced and "baptized" into the family of Capoeira by "playing" with an instructor followed by a promotion ceremony.

Students will receive new cords that represent their rank in the art. The beginning rank or level is called raw, followed by yellow, orange, blue, purple, green, brown and red. "It takes many years to learn and instructors are always learning," said Villanueva.

One of the highlights of the event is an appearance by special instructor, Joseph Kushnir of New Jersey, who participates in Capoeira although a congenital quadruple amputee.

Villanueva has been teaching the Roots of Brazil for the past 12 years and says the art is slowly growing. "It was always there but it is becoming more known in the community," he said. "It's played on the streets, in parks, at regional shows, libraries, fairs and street festivals."

Experience the music, dance and excitement of Capoeira by attending the Batizado Celebration.

Roots of Brazil Capoeira Batizado Celebration
Sunday, August 30
12 noon - 4 p.m.
Ruggieri Senior Center
33997 Alvarado Niles Blvd., Union City

Jojo Villanueva (510) 427-1493

Admission is $10 (includes meal) ages 6 to adult, under 6 free
No advance ticket sales

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