* Immediately following the film, Mestre Cobra Mansa will host a Q & A *
The film follows Capoeira master ‘Mestre’ Cobra Mansa and his friends in the search for the African roots of the Brazilian martial art known as Capoeira. In it, a powerful myth links Capoeira to a legendary Angolan game called Engolo—known as the Zebra dance. The film documents, for the first time, Engolo as well as other combat games, dances, and music from the Nyaneka-Humbi people in Southern Angola. The exchange between Capoeira and Engolo in Angolan villages and the insights from the streets of Rio and Bahia illuminate the affinities and differences between combat games and musical bows played on both sides of the Atlantic.
Directed by Richard Pakleppa, Matthias Röhrig Assunção, and Anthropologist Christine Dettmann.
What is Capoeira? Capoeira is a Brazilian art form that developed from combat games enslaved Africans brought to Brazil during the colonial period. It features dance, martial arts, music, songs, acrobatics, and, many would say, a particular philosophy. In performance practitioners form a circle where eight of them play instruments creating a groove that supports songs and the physical action. Songs are in Portuguese and the instruments are all percussion, with the exception of the berimbaus, three musical bows that lead the musical ensemble. Players take turns to come to the center of the circle in couples for the physical action. These physical encounters are known as jogos (games), neither a dance, nor a combat. During the performance, sometimes players seem to be dancing and other times to be fighting. This ambiguity is integral to capoeira and practitioners strive to balance the two. With a legacy linked to resistance and liberation from Portuguese colonizers and enslavers, many practitioners nowadays see capoeira as a symbol of cultural resistance and an instrument to educate and raise awareness about racial inequality. These views have been multiplied since the 1980s when capoeira became globalized.
Mestre Cobra Mansa is a recognized Capoeira Angola master based in Bahia (Brazil) who has extensive experience teaching and performing capoeira around the world. He participated in the revival of Capoeira Angola during the 1980s–90s in Bahia and now leads the International Capoeira Angola Foundation, one of the most influential capoeira groups in the world. Recently, he participated in the project Angolan Roots of Capoeira led by historian Matthias Rohrig Assuncao (University of Essex), which took them to Angola four times.
Luigi Dallapiccola’sQuaderno Musicale di Annalibera as well as works by J.S. Bach and others.
Raised in Sacramento and based in London, pianist Anyssa Neumann has been praised for the “clarity, charm, and equipoise” of her performances, which span solo and collaborative repertoire from the Baroque to the 21st century. Recent highlights include recitals in Rome, Paris, Montreal, Ottawa, Denver, and throughout the Pacific Northwest. A dedicated contrapuntalist, she has given all-Bach recitals at The Banff Centre, the Sacramento Bach Festival, and London’s St James Piccadilly. Her solo debut album of works by Bach, Beethoven, Messiaen, and Prokofiev was featured on David Dubal’s radio program The Piano Matters in New York and Chicago, and a new solo disc of works by Bach, Bach-Busoni, and Dallapiccola is scheduled for release later this year.
Lecturer in Music Brian Riceis a highly acclaimed performer, educator, and recording artist and one of the most versatile percussionists in the Bay Area. Though best known as a specialist in Brazilian and Cuban music, Brian can be heard playing a multitude of styles and his percussion playing graces over 60 recordings.
Svanibor Pettan is a visiting professor at the University of California Berkeley in the Spring semester 2019 and teaches the course Music and Minorities in Europe. Otherwise, he is professor and chair in ethnomusicology at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His academic degrees are from the universities in Croatia, Slovenia, and the United States, while his fieldwork sites include former Yugoslav lands, Australia, Egypt, Norway, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and the USA.