In commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Brazil (13 May 1888), Black History Studies screened the new documentary ‘Capoeira: Fly Away Beetle’ on Monday 13th May 2013.
In ‘Capoeira: Fly Away Beetle,’ three world renowned masters (Olavo dos Santos, Boca Rica, and Cobra Mansa) tell of the oppressive conditions during and after slavery which shaped the unique art form of Capoeira. Sharing radically different views their focuses range from the violence of Capoeira’s early days, to the modern social benefits of Capoeira for a youth in troubled times. They describe the subtleties of the art form’s deceptive moves and articulate, through personal insight, an animated and colourful picture of Capoeira.
Living under bridges on the ghetto streets of Salvador Brazil a young man (Roque Batista) turns to Capoeira in order to save himself from destitution. In the struggle to better his life Roque becomes a teacher of Capoeira, and we meet his young student Tamir as she turns to the art form in an effort to avoid the dangers of street life.
Weaving between interviews, rare old footage, and modern exhibitions of Capoeira, the film tells the stories of these people. In so doing, connections to slavery, African Candomble and magic are discovered. Tales of the legendary Besouro (the flying Capoeirista) aquaint us with a mystical and enigmatic figure, as much legend as historical, who mastered the arts of African magic.
The ritualistic and rhythmic music of the berimbau is central to Capoeira, and the film explores its many aspects including how one is made, its importance to the roda, and even stories of one instrument’s supernatural capacities.
In the end, despite their grit and troubles, the battle-scarred old masters rejoice with their community in the marketplace and the roda. The man from the streets looks toward the future, and from their stories we get a sense of where Capoeira has come from, what it is, and where it may be going.
Rather than pulling back in a traditional documentary style to give a broad overview, the film takes us inside the lives of these men to experience the essence of what Capoeira is. Rather than an historical account, it is an artistic penetration into the subject of Capoeira.
We were truly honoured to be blessed with a live capoeira demonstration by Abhusia and family of Awakened Spirit who provide Capoeira Angola classes in South London.
This was my first live capoeira demonstration and it was amazing. The spirit of King Zumbi and Besouro was definately in the room on the night. We were joined by Contra Mestre Chicago and Contra Mestre Chorao who gave us some background to capoeira and how it has impacted on their lives.
Watch the demo below: