World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


ABADÁ - Capoeira San Francisco Performance Troupe

Mestranda Márcia Cigarra
First Appearance in SF EDF:

ABADÁ-Capoeira San Francisco Performance Troupe (ACSF), founded 1992, preserves and promotes Afro-Brazilian culture through athletic, spirited, and artistic performances of maculelê, capoeira, and music; with over 500 performances at schools, cultural events, and outdoor festivals in California. Mestranda Márcia “Cigarra” (Treidler), originally from Rio de Janeiro, is ACSF’s founder and artistic director, one of the ten top capoeiristas of 40,000 international ABADÁ-Capoeira members, and Mestre Camisa’s first female student to be named “Mestranda.”


AbadaTITLE: Spirit of Brazil
GENRES: Folkloric (Capoeira and Maculelê)
DANCERS: Antonio Contreras, Rhodora Derpo, Claudia Escobar, Aimee Fribourg, Michael Friedman, Kelly Gleason, Elias Gonzales, Erica Hemenway, Dongshil Kim, Joshua Peterson, Krystele Rosado, Olivia Shetler, Lisa Silva, Makley de Sousal
Alison Barnes (atabaque), Mestranda Márcia Cigarra (berimbau, atabaque), Zak Douglas (berimbau, atabaque), Joshua Peterson (berimbau), Reynaldo Vieira (pandeiro), Jocelyn Walker (pandeiro, agogo)

In the seventeenth century, Portuguese transported millions of Africans to work in sugar plantations along Brazil’s northeast coast. Spirit of Brazil celebrates dance and martial art forms invented in those fields—maculelê and capoeira. The performance mixes authentic and modern interpretations with rarely-seen choreography from Mestre Bimba, Brazil’s 1930s champion of the form.

The performance begins with a set of capoeira, an improvised game. The rhythm of the berimbau—a resonant stringed gourd—declares the rules. Opponents catch each other off-guard with acrobatics, martial arts, and dance moves. Players score points for rhythm, athletic prowess, and improvisational grace: and the duo’s points are combined. This performance, set for stage, begins with benguela, a ritualized game with low, slow movements, use of the head, and attempts to get behind the opponent. Next, in São Bento grande, the object is to “put down” the opponent with athletic, flowing moves. The third rhythm, iuna, signals free form combat—a daring game of trust. This game was developed as African groups shared fighting techniques, disguising their military practice as music, dance, and song.

Part two of this set is the maculelê, a dance inspired by the chopping of sugar cane. In a roda circle, participants dance, keep rhythm, and sing, often in Yoruba.

Swing and balance in the sea . . . in port, we were sold into
slavery. . . but I’m black and I have a warrior’s soul, I will
escape captivity in capoeira. . . penetrate the jungle, break
the chains, return to my land. . .

The simple maculelê costumes have traditional raffia skirts, and white capoeira suits evolved from African ceremonial attire and Afro-Brazilian Sunday suits. Musicians play agogo cowbell; Brazilian atabaque drums, and three sizes of stringed African berimbau. Call and response songs honor the strong human voice and the oral tradition that helped a people and their art form survive.


TITLE: Spirit of Brazil
Mestranda Márcia "Cigarra"
: Sara Breselor, Mestranda Márcia “Cigarra,” Antonio Contreras, Amiee Fribourg, Michael Friedman, Seth Goodell, Maria Hernandez, Cesar Herrera, Dongshil Kim, Joe Kim, Savannah Knoop, Danny McAtee, Instrutor Mobília, Chris Moraga, Genevieve Ongsioco, Instrutora Sereia, Maklei de Souza, Jonah Tzur, Katya Wesolowski, Chris Zamora

Mestranda Márcia “Cigarra” Treidler created Spirit of Brazil in 2006 and modified it for this Festival. The first sequence—three capoeira duets—rescues and preserves movements and rhythms introduced by Mestre Bimba, a 1930's founding father of capoeira.

In the opening duets, the berimbau sets the rhythm. It is a simple, traditional African instrument—a large bow, played with a stone—capable of unusually complex sound. Each berimbau rhythm characterizes a capoeira game. For example, the Angola rhythm calls for a slower, ritualized game with movements on the floor and use of one’s head. The Iuna rhythm directs players to engage in a game of trust using daring acrobatic moves.

The second sequence shows capoeira as it is actually played—as an athletic stream of consciousness driven by clapping hands, instruments, vocals, and engaged bodies. For a capoeira game, all the capoeiristas—in traditional white—stand in a circle, or roda. Two players face off in the center. Unlike most martial arts, capoeira is largely non-contact. The players give and take, and as one attacks, the other retreats. The game is improvised, so players must stay connected and alert to one another's moves. The call and response songs are often about the art form. They also express the powerful spirit of the human voice, and its historic link to cultural and actual survival.

Vento que balança a cana no canavial

Na varanda da casa grande
Coronel descansava na rede
Escravo no canavial
Morria de fome e de sede

Na capela da fazenda
Sinha ia se confessar
Coberta com manto de renda
Ajoelhada no altar

Wind blows the sugarcane on the plantation

On the veranda of the grand plantation owner's home
The owner rests in a hammock
The slave in the plantation
Is dying of hunger and thirst

In the chapel of the plantation
The wife of the slave owner says confession
Covered with an embroidered veil
Kneeling at the altar

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