Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Winter Break 2014

We will be on hiatus during winter break until Monday, January 12th.

If you want to play capoeira in the meantime, check out FICA Seattle!

Mark your calendars for the annual Martin Luther King Conference, which will be held at WCC on Saturday January 17th. Mestre Silvinho will be holding a public workshop there, and we will have a brief demonstration roda during lunchtime. More details to come!

Monday, December 8, 2014

What does this mean for us?

The article below, taken from the Seattle Times, speaks about Yoga, as it is institutionalized in the PNW. But it raises important questions for those of us who practice Capoeira.

Something is being lost in Seattle’s yoga craze

Special to The Seattle Times

“You have an Indian yoga teacher?” My friend asked with surprise when I mentioned Sweta Saraogi’s name in conversation, “I’ve never met an Indian yoga teacher before.”

If you’re not into the Seattle yoga scene that statement might come as a shock — given yoga’s spiritual, historical and cultural roots in India.

But if you’ve practiced yoga in this city for as long as I have (almost eight years) you know what my friend is talking about. Not only are yoga teachers rarely Indian, they’re most often white.

“That’s the face of yoga,” says Saraogi, sitting in the fitness studio of her apartment building where she teaches private sessions, “A thin, white, blonde ... American teacher who can do crazy pretzel moves and pass for a supermodel.”

Saraogi, who grew up in Mumbai and has spent time studying yoga in India, says a lack of diversity in American yoga culture is only part of her critique.

She also struggles with how exercise-oriented yoga has become in America — a “hard-core fitness” and “sweat it out” attitude that she says commercializes an inherently spiritual practice.

She trained as an instructor in the Midwest and says that when she tried to include elements like chanting or philosophy in her classes she often was told it was intimidating — especially coming from an Indian woman who may be perceived as too serious or too religious in her approach.

“In Chicago, most of the time I was pushed back even if I tried to chant ‘Om’ (a common Hindu mantra),” says Saraogi, who is quick to add that she was raised Hindu, but identifies as spiritual, not as religious. “Indirectly I was told, ‘You need to back off ... We don’t want to scare people with your chanting and your (skin) color.’ ”

It’s always complicated to practice or teach yoga as an Indian or Indian American in the United States, says Gita Mehrotra, who has practiced yoga for years and recently finished a teacher training.

Mehrotra feels alienated by yoga that ignores cultural and spiritual elements of the practice, but is also offended by the use of Hindu religious symbols and religious chanting by yoga studios full of non-Indians.

“You would never ask a room full of people to recite the Lord’s Prayer without context, or giving (people) a choice of whether or not they’d like to participate,” says Mehrotra, referencing the Sanskrit chants and prayers often incorporated into yoga classes. “Especially in Seattle, a lot of yoga studios take a kind of uncritical approach to using ... Hinduism as part of their yoga studio and what they are selling.”

In response to this and other examples of a yoga culture that felt unwelcoming, Mehrotra helped co-found POC Yoga, an organization in Seattle that provides weekly classes and regular teacher workshops for people of color while also contextualizing yoga’s Indian roots.

Saraogi has forged her own path as well. Tired of fighting to fit into the existing scene, she’s started teaching private classes to clients (I’ve taken three myself). She says many of her clients feel uncomfortable in standard yoga classes, whether because of their body type, gender, race or culture, and prefer taking private lessons with her.

Yoga has long been a positive part of my life but I’ll fess up: I’ve chanted a lot of Sanskrit words I didn’t understand and have been to only a few classes taught by a person of color. So how can the practice be more authentic and inclusive in a city where yoga studios are becoming almost as common as coffee shops?

Saraogi and Mehrotra both say it isn’t about excluding anyone, but instead about finding ways to include different types of people in yoga culture. Oh, and taking the time to notice that you’re engaging in an ancient practice that took a long and, sometimes strange, journey to your neighborhood studio.

“I don’t feel like it’s an easy fix and I don’t have an answer about it,” says Mehrotra, “But I think there’s something about acknowledging that it’s complicated that would go a long way.

I know it just got more complicated for me.

Sarah Stuteville is a multimedia journalist and co-founder of The Seattle Globalist,, a news site covering Seattle's international connections. Sarah Stuteville: Twitter @SeaStute

Sunday, December 7, 2014

In Vancouver BC

Among the many great moments during Mestre Silvinho's visit to Vancouver, BC...
A Chilean, an Austrian, an Italian, a Brasilian and a Colombian bonding through the arts!

Learning how to play the berimbau!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Not just Michael Brown

To name just five more:

Amadou Diallo, 23, killed by the NYPD February 4th 1999. He was unarmed.

All of the police officers were acquitted of murder charges.

Tarika Wilson, 26, killed by police officers in Lima, Ohio, on Jan. 4 2008.

A SWAT team arrived at Ms. Wilson’s house to arrest her companion, Anthony Terry, on suspicion of drug dealing. Officers bashed in the front door and entered with guns drawn. Moments later, the police opened fire, killing Ms. Wilson and wounding her 14-month-old son.

The police officer was charged with, and later acquitted of, two misdemeanors, negligent homicide and negligent assault.

Oscar Grant, 23, killed January 1st, 2009 on the Bay Area Rapid Transit police at the Fuitvale station.

The police officer was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served two years in prison.

Kenneth Chamberlain Sr., 68, killed by police officers in his home in White Plains, NY

He was a 68 year-old veteran. After his Life Aid medical alert necklace was inadvertently triggered, police came to his home and demanded that he open his front door. Despite his objections and statements that he did not need help, the police broke down Chamberlain's door, tasered him, and then shot him dead..

No charges were filed against the police officers.

Eric Garner, 44, killed by the NYPD, July 17th 2014.

He was stopped by NYPD for allegedly selling cigarettes, put in a chokehold, and killed. An autopsy by the city’s medical examiner found that Mr. Garner’s death was a homicide resulting from the chokehold and the compression of his chest by police officers.

A grand jury voted on not to bring any criminal charges.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall quarter 2014

WWU is back in session, so we have begun to practice Mondays in the VU Multipurpose room again.
We'll be there at 5:40 to set up and warm up. class starts at 6pm and goes until 7:45 or so. Everyone is welcome, regardless of their experience: wear a pair shoes you can move in, long pants, and a t-shirt that can be tucked in.

Some special events coming up:

Mestre Silvinho will be here Tuesday October 28th: we will have a workshop starting from 5:30 to 7:30, in Carver Gym, room 60.

Mestre will be in Bellingham again on Saturday November 8th: time and location of a workshop TBD.

That weekend there will also be some great West African Drumming classes, taught by Guinean master drummer Manimou Camara (see the previous post below).

Finally, the weekend of November 14th to the 16th there will be a full weekend of classes, workshops and rodas in Seattle, with Mestre Jurandir, Mestre Valmir, and ContraMestre Andrea!

click here for more info.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A new drumming workshop in November!

Sayon Camara will be back in Bellingham the weekend of November 7, 8 and 9, at Inspire Studio, sponsored by Doni Doni drums. Call 603 - 254 - 4493.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Berimbau Cases available!

There lovely berimbau cases were hand-made in Italy by Anna of FICA - Pisa.

The material is synthetic and dries quickly; the bags for the cabacas are padded; there is an outer pocket for a baqueta; the bottom is reinforced with faux leather.

You can purchase one for $45 - the money goes back to Anna!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Summer 2014

At Boulevard Park:

Monday 6/9, 6/16 and 6/30. 6pm until sunset...

possibly other days as well! (email us to be kept in the loop)

We'll be on hiatus until late August, but if you want to develop your skills in capoeira, you can always visit FICA-Seattle, or take some drumming lessons from Doni Doni Drums!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Festival 2014!

Another great year of dance, community and capoeira!
Treinel Daniel - who came all the way from Oakland! - explains the details of some capoeira movements. Obrigado Daniel!
A group photo with Dora Newman after her great Samba/Afro-Brasilian dance class! Obrigado Dora!
A moment towards the end of our closing roda, with a bateria made entirely of women.

So many friends came to spend time with us - Keith of Doni Doni drums, our friends from Vancouver and Seattle, WWU students and Bellingham residents - what a great day!

Friday, May 23, 2014

5th annual Afro-Brasilian Festival!

Come join us for Bellingham's fifth annual Afro-Brasilian Festival - a
day of music, dance, and community featuring, samba, west african
dance, and capoeira angola!

Saturday, May 31st
WWU, Carver Gym D

9am: registration and welcome
10am: Capoeira Angola class with Treinel Daniel and Mestre Silvinho
12pm: Capoeira Angola kids class with Mestre Silvinho
1pm: samba class with Dora Oliveira
2pm: Capoeira Angola music class with Treinel Daniel
3pm: West African Dance with Manimou Camara
4pm: Capoeira Angola roda
6pm: dinner

Free for students. For the public: $5 for any and all classes, $10 for
the dinner

There was an overview of the event in the AS Review of 5/27.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring 2014 scheduling (UPDATED)

Until June 2nd:

Regular class will continue to be held on Mondays at 5:30 in the MPR at WWU.
Music class on Saturdays at 11am at the Whatcom Peace and Justice Center (1220 Bay street); on nice days, we will move to the Farmers' Market.

There will NOT be a music class on Saturday May 10th, or Saturday May 17th.


 Sunday May 4th C2C is organizing their second annual farmworker solidarity march.
12pm: Leave from the intersection of Meridian and Prince, Bellingham
1:30pm: Rally at the Whatcom County Courthouse, Grand and Lottie, Bellingham
2:00pm: Rally and Food at Maritime Heritage park

Mestre Silvinho will be giving a workshop here in Bellingham on Tuesday May 6th in WWU's Carver Gym, Room 60, from 6 to 8pm. Beginners and non-students welcome!

Treinel Huu

Treinel Huu (pictured at left, from FICA-Chicago) will be visiting Seattle on Saturday and Sunday May 17th and 18th.

May 31st will be our fifth annual Afro-Brasilian Festival - stay tuned for the schedule!

Mestre Cobra Mansa will be in Seattle on June 6th to the 8th to teach classes and share his new documentary (trailer below).

Monday, March 3, 2014


I am representing an article over at Capoeira Connection (a website that i greatly recommend!)
- - - - - -
While in Salvador, I made a list of the “key words” that Mestre Valmir and his students emphasized with frequency in the trainings. Here they are, as well as an explanation of more or less what they mean:

Awareness – Visualization

Being conscious of the position of your body and the position of the other player’s. Knowing the length and reach of your attacks, so that you don’t give any that are out of range. Being aware of your possible openings. “Seeing” the movements.
The opposite is, for example, thinking you’ve done something clever by giving a fully extended chapa that arrives within an inch of the other player’s exposed face. You’ve done nothing; you couldn’t hit the other player if you tried… unless you’re Inspector Gadget and can mechanically elongate your leg. In reality that point goes to the other player, because they perceived the length of your leg and backed away just out of your reach.
Another example is being oblivious to points the other player scores on you: when they subtly mark a rasteira or cabe├žada or whatever, and everyone else in the roda but you sees that you’ve been had. A classic example of this is when some newbie starts a kick, the professor marks a rasteira, and the newbie doesn’t notice; he follows through and kicks the professor, not realizing that if the professor had actually done the rasteira, he’d be in no condition to kick.

Tranquility – Calmness – Patience – Control

Staying chill in the roda. Not just avoiding anger, but also overexcitement and over-eagerness to “get” the other player. Having perfect control of your body: not hitting the other player by accident or falling out of a movement when you didn’t intend to. If you get a point scored on you, you don’t try to get your revenge right away; instead you wait, develop the game, make the other player think you’ve forgotten, and then get him. Maybe not even in the same game… maybe your revenge comes a week or a year or even a decade later.
The opposite of this is getting worked up, responding to receiving a rasteira or blow with an immediate attempt to get the other player, doing jerky and uncontrolled movements, falling out of the roda or hitting the people sitting in it, having to rush to dodge the other player’s movements (this also has to do with lack of foresight to see them coming).

Cleverness – Deception

You must be able to deceive well; if you’re going to fake one movement but do another, the fake has to be really convincing in order to provoke the response you want from the other player. You should be clever enough to note weaknesses in the other player’s game and take advantage of them. Cleverness is also the defense; you should be able to anticipate the other player’s attacks in order to successfully dodge. Never telegraph a movement; try to keep the other player guessing. The ginga, especially, should have tons of flourishes, fakes, turns – it’s a completely un-patterned matrix of movement, not a repetitive back-and-forth step.

Rhythm – Expression – Feeling – Soul – ‘From the heart’

There is no right or wrong in capoeira, only consequences. Capoeira angola has no perfectionist technical standards; you’re free to do the movements with your own personal expression, in the way that is best for your body. Your movements will be most effective if you do them to the rhythm of the berimbau. And do them with feeling, with “soul” – have fun! Let the joy of capoeira show through in the way you move your body… dance to the berimbau’s beat. The opposite: moving and playing tensely or drudgingly, looking as though you didn’t even like capoeira.

Relaxation – Looseness – Lightness – Smoothness – Respiration

Angoleiros keep themselves completely relaxed, because this allows them to have the most mobility. Feet step lightly on the ground, arms move smoothly/naturally and are not held firmly in one position. Their bodies are loose, not rigid, giving them minimum commitment and maximum adaptability. The opposite: stepping firmly, holding arms rigidly or moving them jerkily, being stuck to the ground, having plodding movements, over-committing to movements.

Freedom of movement – Mobility – Balance within unbalance

Since capoeiristas constantly have to predict and respond to the unpredictable, they need as much mobility and adaptability as possible. They have to be able to go in any direction at any time; any movement must be able to be desfeito (literally “un-done”), aborted or changed at any moment during its entrance, execution, or exit. The angoleiro’s balance does not come from a stationary stance, but from being in motion (like riding a bike – you can only stay upright when the bike is in motion); she might look like she’s careening around the roda out of control or like she never has a foot firmly on the ground, but in fact she has perfect control and balance – without, in fact, ever having a foot “firmly” on the ground! Angoleiros stay on the balls of their feet as much as possible in order to have more mobility.

Naturalness – Subtlety

There’s no need for exaggeration or over-acting. You should be clever but not look like you’re trying hard to be (that’ll just make you look like a wise guy who mistakenly thinks he’s a mandingueiro). Angoleiros will mark attacks without calling a ton of attention to it; the point might even go unnoticed by many who don’t know how to “see” the exchanges in capoeira angola. I think it’s less the movements themselves and more a mental posture that shows through in the movements (an attitude of humility vs. one of “I’m going to show everyone how clever I am!”)

Objectivity – Protection

All movements must have purpose; either to attack one of the other player’s vulnerable areas or maneuver her into a position in which you can attack them. The back, legs, and arms are not particularly vulnerable, whereas the face, chest, and abdomen are. You get absolutely no points if you tag your opponent with a kick to their back or leg… in fact, doing so demonstrates that you couldn’t crack open their game and the best you could do was take a cheap and useless shot at a non-vulnerable part of their body.
Some angoleiros, when hit with such a blow, will make a show of dusting off the area with a look of disdain on their face that says “oh come on… what a pathetic attack.” At the same time you are trying to control the other player, you must take care to protect your own openings. This protection, in capoeira angola, should be flexible and mobile rather than fixed and rigid.
There are two errors people make regarding objectivity. One is having too little – this is exemplified by giving kicks over someone who’s already dodging, giving attacks that are out of range, and doing movements that serve absolutely no purpose. The other is having too much – this is exemplified by going for cheap shots ALL the time, keeping yourself permanently closed (as opposed to opening and closing, or appearing open when you are really protected), and making it obvious that your chief goal is to get the other player.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Capoeira p'ra homen, menina e mulher

Many, many thanks to Leika, Caitlin, Serene, Lindsay and Saiana for driving up to Bellingham from Seattle to share their time with us!

We had a lot of fun participating in the Girl Scouts' thinking day. Thank you to Laura and Maria for setting this up!
Caitlin plays berimbau with some girl scouts
Later in the afternoon Leika led a class for us - including a music class.
Obrigadao a voces!

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Western Front Photo Blog
Chanel Retasket from the Western Front came to visit our practice on Monday - this is one of the pictures she took!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mark your calendars!

Mestre Rene Bittencourt, of the Capoeira group ACANNE will be visiting Seattle the weekend from February 28 to March 2nd! This is a great opportunity - don't miss out! Click on the image for schedule and prices.