Capoeira: The Art of Survival
CULTURAL FORMS DANC 3390- 2 credits- MW 4:00-5:20 - RH 103
Office Hours: RH 129 TTH 1`2-12:50 pm ; (208) 282-6143;;

The Art of Survival

Course Description

    An introduction to the African Brazilian Art of Capoeira and its sister art, Maculelê. Combining elements of dance, acrobatics, martial arts and music, this ritual art form offered community for the African diaspora of Brazil. Class will include practice of movement, songs, musical instruments and an investigation into the historical and cultural roots of this unique art.


Meia Lua De Frente
Meia Lua De Compasso
Desce Trocando
Guarda Baixa
Caida De Rim

    B. Play the game of Capoeira by the combination of the above movements.

    C. Contribute to the roda by demonstrating proficiency in generating Capoeira rhythm and narrative through the playing of instruments (palmas, berimbau, pandeiro, atabaque) and the singing of songs.

    D. Demonstrate an understanding of the rituals and traditions of Capoeira through practical application in the roda and in academic presentations.

    E. Describe and analyze the cultural and historical contexts of the development of Capoeira in Brazil as a folkloric form and its continued evolution as a current social phenomena throughout the world.

Required Reading

Strongly Suggested Reading
    Assuncão, Matthias Röhrig, Capoeira: The History of an Afro-Brazilian Martial Art. London: Routledge, 2005.
    Capoeira, Nestor, The Little Capoeira Book. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1986.
    Lewis, J. Lowell, Ring of Liberation. Chicago: U of Chicago, 1992.
    Almeida, Bira, Capoeira, A Brazilian Art Form. Berkeley: North Atlantic, 1986.


Omulu Guanabara Los Angeles

Omulu Capoeira Guanabara

Abadá Capoeira San Francisco

ABADÁ Capoeira New York

Capoeira Angola Center of Mestre João Grande

Raizes do Brasil Capoeira Santa Cruz

Required Materials

  • A roll of cloth athletic tape, widely available in all pharmacies or big box grocery stores.
  • BRING WATER WITH YOU TO CLASS. Drink plenty of it and often.
  • Maculêlê sticks: You will need two (2) sticks of hard wood (e.g. oak, rattan, maple, ash) approximately 2' long, 1 1/2" in diameter.


    A. Many of the movements in capoeira are inverted i.e. upside down. Long work-out pants, sweat pants, or leggings; a comfortable shirt (tucked in), leotard, or sports bra are acceptable. Women must wear a sports bra or leotard underneath. Baggy pants are not acceptable. Shorts are not acceptable. White is preferred as it is the traditional color of the Capoeira uniform. Uniforms from other martial arts disciplines are not acceptable; it is disrespectful to both Capoeira and these other Art forms.

    B. Bare feet are required; in other words, no shoes. Note: proper care of your feet is essential to the quality of your performance and participation. You are required to carry athletic tape with you to class.

    C. Hair must be secured away from face. No dangling jewelry, necklaces, bracelets or big rings-they are a safety hazard. You must remove your rings if you want to play the drums.

    D. Personal Hygiene: keep your hands and feet manicured, i.e., keep your nails trimmed.

    E. Blood: if you ever bleed on the floor (from blood blisters, splits in feet, etc.) you must prevent anyone else from coming in contact with your blood. Make everyone in the class aware so that we may promptly and safely clean it up. Do not attempt to clean up anyone's blood without proper protection.


  • Regular participation. Absences will negatively impact your growth, both intellectually and physically.
  • If you cannot participate physically on any given day you will still be expected to participate by working on instruments, learning songs and/or watching the class and writing a synopsis of that class.
  • ANY TARDY STUDENT MUST RECEIVE PERMISSION FROM THE INSTRUCTOR IN ORDER TO JOIN IN THE CLASS THAT IS ALREADY IN PROGRESS! As a general rule, if it is 5 minutes past the start time of class, you are too late to participate.Two tardies equal one absence.
  • To receive full benefit from the course, and each individual class, you must participate fully from beginning to end.
  • Participation in final examination during finals week, Monday, May 2, 5:30 -7:30 pm.The final examination is a skills based examination which will be conducted during finals week. You will be tested on all of the movements listed above and will demonstrate fundamental competency of maintaining and participating in the energy of the roda.
  • Attendance of a dance and/or movement performance. A 1-2 page typewritten critical description of what you saw and your critical reaction is required. You will need to attach your ticket stub to the report. All papers must be typed. I will not accept handwritten or late papers.

Grading Policy
100-90 A
89-80 B
79-70 C
69-60 D
59-00 F
Participation 30
Growth and Development 25
Skill (technical proficiency) 15
Final 20
Performance Critique 10
Total 100

  • A = Excellence: not only punctual attendance, but physically prepared and mentally focused at the start of class; a progressive mastery of physical technique and the improvisational game of Capoeira; self-confidence, exuberant determination to eagerly face challenges and successfully overcome obstacles; playful individuality, elegance, strategy and volume in the game; self-initiation in the leading of songs and playing of instruments; leadership qualities; maturely accepts comments and critiques; thorough understanding, respect and heightened awareness to the spirit, discipline, protocol, history, culture, and rituals of Capoeira.

    B = Very Good to Outstanding: punctual attendance; physically and mentally focused; solid proficiency of physical technique and the improvisational game of Capoeira; self-confidence, determination to eagerly face challenges and overcome obstacles; playful individuality and volume in the game; self-initiation in the learning of songs and instruments; welcomes comments and critiques; basic understanding of and genuine respect to the spirit, discipline, protocol, history, culture, and rituals of Capoeira.

    C = Average to Good: punctual attendance; basic requirements of physical technique and a fundamental knowledge of the game of capoeira; willingness to face challenges and overcome obstacles; welcomes comments and critiques; basic understanding of the spirit, discipline, protocol, history, culture, and rituals of Capoeira.

    D = Poor to Below Average: fails to meet many of the criteria outlined above; demonstrates serious attitude or attendance problems

    F = Failing: has not performed class work.