Through Dave Marshall’s Brazilian History course and the generosity of an MA family, Marin Academy was proud to host Abadá-Capoeira San Francisco (ACSF) during Monday’s special assembly. Capoeira, a form of self-defense created by African slaves in Brazil, fuses dance and martial arts. Though this is Dave’s third year offering the course, this is the first time that capoeira has been incorporated into the curriculum and shared with the entire MA community.
MA students have the option of studying Latin America in some of their foundation courses, but Brazilian History is our only course dedicated to a Latin American nation. Brazil is now the sixth-largest economy (and the “B” in BRIC) and the world’s fifth largest country (by geographical area and population). The nation has made great strides in terms of environmental preservation and social equality. Students can elect to take the course after they finish a year of American history, and Dave’s curriculum explores the similarities and differences between the two countries in terms of colonization, culture, customs, geography, language, and demographics.
As the ACSF website explains, by combining dance, acrobatics, percussion, and singing in a rhythmic dialog of body, mind, and spirit, slaves were able to conceal capoeira’s combative purpose and use it to fight to escape and resist capture. In addition, it was an expression of resistance and resilience, and brought spiritual and emotional empowerment. It was also a way to allow African culture to shine through, and is now seen a reflection of the cultural and social integration of modern-day Brazil.
We saw in the ACSF demonstration that capoeira is a playful, fluid, and inclusive activity. Mestranda Márcia Treidler, ACSF’s founder, explained how capoeira is a communal game that involves the two opponents as well as the other players who form a circle (also called a “roda”) and sing and play instruments to create a rhythm for the game. Non-verbal communication is crucial as the opponents do not speak and tap in and out of the circle without words.
Our capoeira assembly (and the lunchtime workshop with more than 40 students) was a wonderful example of the experiential education that allows our students to actively participate in what they are learning. By witnessing and trying a fascinating art and athletic form, our students could more tangibly understand capoeira’s social, political, and historical significance. They were able to move beyond reading or viewing a film about Brazil and instead encounter Brazilian culture themselves with our guests. In this way, the lesson could come to life and students could get a little bit closer to Brazil in the absence of being able to take a field trip to South America. Ultimately, Monday’s assembly, in conjunction with other experiences they have inside and outside the classroom, help to expand students’ frame of reference in order to become more global citizens.
View more than 30 photos from assembly on MA’s Facebook page.