Capoeira Dance, Brazil, 1830s
Caption, "jogar capoera ou danse de la guerre" (capoeira play or war dance); men and women onlookers; drummer on right. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial arts-dance form whose origins are obscure: it may have originated in Africa or in the quarters of the enslaved on Brazilian plantations. In any case, it is a uniquely Brazilian practice, and the term can signify "an individual who engages in the athletic pastime of the same name, in which the participant….. with rapid and characteristic gestures goes through the motion[s] …." (translators note in Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves [New York, 1956], p. 48, note 120). "The capoeiras organised public contests for entertainment.
They played capoeira in military and religious processions and scorned and derided public officials. Their performance was accompanied by music, dance, and interaction with the spectators. Although public officials attempted to brand the capoeiras as dangerous and violent hoodlums,the masses admired and respected the performers" (Maya Talmon-Chvaicer, The Criminalization of Capoeira in Nineteenth-Century Brazil, Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. 8 (2002), p. 525).