Capoeira started during the slave trade in Brazil, as a way for slaves to practice self-defense without getting caught. They disguised it as a dance by incorporating music and instruments, but it also had movements that could turn deadly. It was outlawed in Brazil until Mestre Bimba legitimized it.
Since then, Capoeira has evolved over the decades. Today it is Brazil’s national sport and is practiced all over the world.
It is a rich martial art form that combines dance, acrobatics, culture, music, and community. Students who train regularly benefit from increased coordination, strength, flexibility, discipline, compassion, and tolerance. Capoeira teaches lessons that allow students to grow as people outside of training. As a capoeirista, you become a part of a global community full of wisdom and experience.
Puxada de Rede (or ‘pulling of the net’) is a folkloric theatrical dance about the simple life of Brazilian fishermen and the celebration of a successful catch. The graceful dance involves live music with passionate lyrics reflecting the natural beauty and daily struggles of the life of a fisherman.
Samba, characterized by vibrating hips and fast moving feet, is the official Brazilian dance of Carnaval. Radiant dancers wear Carnaval costumes and dance to live samba percussion.
Dança Guerreira is a powerful dance representing a tribe preparing for fight. The choreography includes dancers in traditional clothing and body paint who are armed with swords and shields
Maculelê is a high-energy,mock-fight dance performed with sticks and machetes to the rapid beat of drums. Its origins are debated: either from slaves practicing defensive tactics in the sugar-cane plantations or from an African man named “Maculele” who successfully fought off an invading tribe, but died in the process.
Mestre Marisa Cordeiro is the founder and executive director of Gingarte Capoeira and a shining symbol of the Brazilian community in Chicago. Born in Curvelo, Brazil, Marisa trained at the prestigious Cordão de Ouro Capoeira Academy in São Paulo with top instructors such as Mestre Suassuna, Mestre Canguru, and Mestre Urubu Malandro. She is one of the highest-ranking female capoeiristas in the world.
Mestre Marisa first came to the United States in 1989 as a performer with the renowned international group Oba Oba. They performed throughout the United States and Latin America. Two years later, she returned to Chicago and established Gingarte Capoeira in 1991.
We are dedicated to bringing capoeira to as many people as possible. If you’re interested in bringing capoeira to your school, please let us know here. If you’re not ready for a program, you can always have us do a demonstration!
School Programs that we’ve been involved with:
After School Matters
Chicago Public Schools
U Of C Charter Schools
Alvin Ailey Dance Camp
U Of C Lab Schools
Chicago High School For The Arts
Children’s Home And Aid
Quad Communities Development Corporation
Mark Sheridan Academy
UIC Jazz Camp
Our board meets regularly to help guide the overall vision of the group alongside Mestre Marisa, our Executive Director. If you are interested in joining our Board of Directors, we accept nominations once a year. We look for members that hold a genuine interest in Capoeira and who can help expand our vision as a nonprofit.
As a completely volunteer-run organization, we are proud of our accomplishments. We have:
Erie Neighborhood House
International House At The University Of Chicago
S And C Electric
Illinois Arts Council
Old Town School Of Folk Music
Museum Of Science And Industry
Museum Of Contemporary Art
Chicago Park District
University of Chicago RSO
Chicago Samba School
Evanston Samba School
Ruth Page Center for the Arts