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Singing for Survival: Capoeira History

English, History, 1 season, 19 episodes, 11 hours, 55 minutes
This podcast is dedicated to educating people on the history of the Afro-Brazilian martial art of Capoeira. Each episode will focus on either an important historical figure or Capoeira song, and will examine what we can learn about the past and future of Capoeira from those stories.
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Dragão do Mar and Brazil's First Free City

In this episode, I collaborate with Natasha Távora Baker (Pequena) from the podcast Natasha Explains it All to talk about how organized labor actions led to the abolition of slavery in Fortaleza, 5 whole years before the passing of the Golden Law in 1888! We dig into a key figure in this process, Dragão do Mar, and also dig into the history and timeline of the abolition movement in Brazil.Natasha's Podcast:
1/15/20241 hour, 26 minutes, 15 seconds
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Paranaue and the War of the Triple Alliance

Paranaue is arguably the most popular and well known song in Capoeira, and it's probably the most well known Capoeira song to people outside of the art. It’s the song people sing as a joke when they can tell the people around them don't know the song they’re singing. But what is it that we are actually singing about? If you take a cursory look at the lyrics, it honestly isn’t really clear. The verses are often improvised for situational relevance, and even the “standard” verses seem at best oblique references to something. For those who have asked the question of “what is this even about” in the past, you were probably told that it had to do with a War with Paraguay that Capoeiristas fought in. But what do we really know about this war with Paraguay, why is it so relevant, and why has this song of all others become so well known? Those are the questions that I want to dig into in this episode. The research for this episode took me far deeper into South American history than I expected, and there were some really surprising turns and revelations along the way, so I hope you enjoy as we take a dive into Paranaue and the War of the Triple Alliance.
7/9/202353 minutes, 46 seconds
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O Que E Berimbau?

In this episode I want to talk about arguably the most important instrument in the Capoeira bateria, the berimbau. The berimbau is an instantly recognizable symbol of Capoeira in the modern day, and in most circles is what leads the roda itself. At some point we all learn how to play this instrument and expect to see it in every roda we attend, but in some ways, there are questions about the instrument itself that we take for granted due to its ubiquitousness. Things like: where did this instrument originate from? When and how did it get to Brazil? Has it always been in Capoeira? If not, when and why did it make its way in? In this episode we are going to dig into some of these questions!
12/5/202237 minutes, 42 seconds
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Apelidos: What's in a Name?

In this episode, we take a look at apelidos: what are they, where do they come from, and how should we use them going forward? This is inspired by and informed from a survey of 75 Capoeiristas polled through the Capoeira sub-reddit on their experience with apelidos.I hope you enjoy and please send any comments and questions to [email protected] is Capoeira Proibida by Mestre Coreba
6/28/202234 minutes, 18 seconds
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Saci Pererê: Uma Perna Só

Today’s episode is not about a person or even a legend within Capoeira. Instead I want to talk about a Brazilian cultural folklore, Saci Perere. Saci is a figure that I have been vaguely aware of for some time. I’ve known several people who were nicknamed Saci, and have heard Saci mentioned in several songs, but wasn’t really aware of who or what he is. So in this episode we dig into this folk trickster, examining who he is, where his story comes from, and what cultural relevance he has today.Sitio do Picapau Amarelo w/ Saci: Squad Podcast: feel free to send me any questions, comments or suggestions at: [email protected]
2/25/202222 minutes, 37 seconds
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Bonus Episode: You're History! - OTS x Singing for Survival Ultimate Mashup

A very special episode where I collaborate with the folks from the Only the Strongest podcast to talk about Capoeira history! If you like this episode, please check them out here: always, feel free to send me any questions, comments or stories at: [email protected]
12/13/202149 minutes, 46 seconds
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Bonus Episode: Our Living History

Super brief bonus episode while I work on the next main one. Here I share my thoughts on the importance of learning our "present histories" and how many figures we may consider historical are still dynamic, active, and changing.Feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or stories at [email protected]
12/6/202115 minutes, 13 seconds
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Maculele: Origins and Modern Interpretation

Today’s episode we will not be talking directly about Capoeira, but instead about a related Afro-Brazilian art that has become inextricably tied to Capoiera: Maculele. Most people who’ve been in Capoeira for some significant amount of time, have been at least exposed to Maculele, if not actively practiced it. It is a dance form of simulated combat with sticks, performed to a very specific drum rhythm, often performed with machetes and/or in extravagant costumes.In today’s discussion, I’ll be discerning between a few different types of Maculele. First is what I’ll call “Modern Maculele” which is what is practiced today amongst Capoeira groups and Afrobrazilian dance and cultural groups. The second I’ll call “Historical Maculele”. This is the raw origins of Modern Maculele that existed in Brasil prior to the early 1900’s, and as far back as at least the 1800’s.The important sources I pulled from today are various historical books on Capoeira, a summary of a book on the history of Maculele (Olele Maculele), and a few interviews with Mestre Popo, the father of Modern Maculele.Send me questions and suggestions! [email protected]
10/5/202130 minutes, 8 seconds
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Sexual Abuse in Capoeira: What We Know and What We Can Do

Today’s episode is going to be a complete departure from the previous format of this podcast. There will be no music, and we will not be talking about a specific person or a specific time period. Instead, we will be talking about the pervasive problems of sexual harassment and abuse in capoeira that recent news reports have once again highlighted. This is unfortunately not new news, over the years this topic has come up several times as movements like MeToo have encouraged people who were victimized to come forward.I have a few main goals for this episode. First is to relay the details of what we know has happened. Too many times people, especially beginners, get incomplete stories or information because people don’t want to talk about difficult topics. This makes those people feel excluded and makes it very difficult for them to make decisions on their involvement and future in capoeira.Second is to educate on the realities of sexual harassment and abuse, at least in the US. I frequently notice a fundamental misunderstanding of how common these crimes are, how infrequently they are reported, and how rare false reports are. This misunderstanding severely hampers discussion on these topics and really hurts our chances at progress.Finally, I want to examine what aspects of capoeira structures and culture contribute to perpetuating these abuses, and what we can do to improve those things. It’s true that these problems exist everywhere, but there are structures, especially those of power, that make them more prevalent or easier to hide. I don’t claim to have all the answers here, I am only taking a look at available research to suggest what we can try.Trigger warning for anyone listening, in this episode we will be talking about sexual violence, abuse, and rape, in some cases involving minors.Email: [email protected]:
7/16/202152 minutes, 7 seconds
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Manduca da Praia and Rio's Maltas

In today’s episode, I want to look at a few different related topics. When we discuss Capoeira history, particularly more modern history, we often focus on the events and people in Bahia, namely in Salvador. This is because many of the important figures responsible for the trajectory of Capoeira to today were from there: Besouro, Bimba, Pastinha, and Salvador brought Capoeira to national approval and legalization. However, the more I research, the more I find Capoeira in Rio incredibly interesting and telling of some of the archetypes we associate with Capoeira today. There are many famous Capoeiristas (like Madame Sata who we talked about previously) who were from Rio, and in my opinion, the capoeiristas of Rio heavily influenced what we picture as the stereotypical malandro. So today we will talk about capoeira in Rio, specifically in what we will call the “malta era”, and as a focus point of the societal role of Capoeira in this place and time, we will talk about Manduca da Praia.
5/12/202139 minutes, 50 seconds
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Njinga: Queen of Angola

In today’s episode, we are going farther back in time than any of our previous episodes, back to the foundations of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa. We are not talking about a Capoeirista, we aren’t even talking about a Brazilian, but instead someone who is hugely important to the resistance of foreign influence to African nations and cultures. We are talking about Queen Njinga of Angola, a person who used every tactic available to her to keep her nation independent, and who’s legacy lead to the modern-day independent state of Angola. Angola is hugely important to Capoeira history and present-day culture, since the majority of the people stolen from Africa and brought to Brazil were from the region known as Portuguese Angola. The roots of many aspects of modern-day Capoeira are thus traced back to this region. Through this discussion, we will talk about how the Portuguese expanded into Western Africa, the methods Njinga used to resist them, and why Njinga’s image has needed to be rehabilitated in the way it has over the past few decades.Here's where you can find my reference for this episode: always, please send any questions/comments/stories to [email protected]
3/3/202146 minutes, 52 seconds
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Besouro Manganga

The subject of today’s episode is Manuel Pereira, better known as Besouro Manganga. Besouro is one of if not the most famous figure in Capoeira history, and for many good reasons. Besouro was so legendary in his fighting prowess, that it was said both that he could shapeshift to escape capture and that he was mystically immune to all physical harm. He lived in a time when Capoeira was heavily persecuted, and fought valiantly against that suppressive system. I’ve heard more capoeira songs referencing Besouro than any other Capoeira figure, and if you’ve been in Capoeira for any significant amount of time, you for sure have at least heard his name. So today, lets dig in to the story of this legend, the music that relates to him, and what we can learn about the development of Capoeira in Bahia in this time period.Songs Included in Today's Episode:Besouro Besourinho - CM RafaelAdeus Besouro - Mestre BarrãoBesouro Valente - Mestre SuassunaBesouro Cordão do Ouro - Mestre CorebaAs always, please email me any comments, questions, stories, or suggestions to: [email protected] 
12/31/202038 minutes, 45 seconds
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Madame Satã: What it Means to be a Malandro

Today's episode is about an extremely interesting legend in recent Capoeira history. We will be traveling to Rio de Janeiro in the early 1900's, only a few decades after slavery was abolished, and while Capoeira was still explicitly illegal. We are looking at a character who challenged what it meant to be a malandro, and really what it meant to be a man in Brasil at this time. Someone forced to the outskirts of society for who they were, but who nevertheless made a name for themselves that we remember today. A fighter, outlaw, dancer, and singer this person fully embraced all aspects of who they were, and that is not only incredibly inspiring, but also relates closely to Capoeira philosophies of duality and contradiction. We are talking of course, about Joao Francisco dos Santos, more commonly known as Madame Satã.A note on pronouns: Though dos Santos was non-gender-conforming and was a very popular drag performer, all records indicate that he identified as a man. For that reason, I will primarily refer to dos Santos as "he/him" except when referring to him by the "Madame Satã" nickname where I will use "they/them".The intro and outro music is from the 2002 movie "Madame Satã" which I highly recommend watching!Link to discussion music: send any questions/comments/stories to: [email protected]
11/5/202025 minutes, 23 seconds
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Dandara & Luisa Mahin: How Racism and Sexism Affects our Histories

In this episode we take a look at the histories of Dandara and Luisa Mahin, and discuss how institutional racism and sexism has affected how they are remembered and viewed today.Dandara is commonly known as the wife of Zumbi, and was a fierce warrior who helped defend the Palmares from the bandeirantes. She killed herself rather than be captured and is a powerful inspiration to many Capoeiristas today.Luisa Mahin was a grocer and revolutionary in her own right and is said to have helped organize the Malê revolt. Her memory was persevered by the writings of her son, Luis Gama, a well-known Brazilian abolitionist. Serious debate has occurred in Brasil over the inclusion of these women in the Pantheon of the Fatherland and Freedom, with many saying they are not historically legitimate enough to be included. In this episodeIntro Music: Dandara by Nina OliveiraCapoeira Music: É Dandara by Mestre Barrao and Carolina SoaresPlease send me any questions and comments: [email protected]
9/26/202039 minutes, 55 seconds
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Lampiao: Follow-up and Questions

In this episode, I go over some questions that were sent in about Lampiao and go over a song describing life in the sertao. It's nice to have another opportunity to look more into Lampiao and this unique region of Brazil!Send questions and suggestions to: [email protected] lyrics:
9/3/202020 minutes, 7 seconds
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Lampião: King of the Sertão

In this episode, we look into the history of Virgulino Ferreira da Silva, also known as Lampião! Lampião is a very important folkloric hero of the Brazilian sertão, who is often seen as a Robin-Hood like figure. The full history of Lampião is significantly more complex, and sheds light on the culture of this region in the early 1900's. Tune in to hear the story of a veritable comic-book hero who revolutionized the way that bandits in the Brazilian backlands operated and even dressed! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!Please email me any questions/comments: [email protected] Footage of Lampião:  Some Images: More images: Pictures of clothing/business cards, and lots of sourses: 
8/12/202052 minutes, 29 seconds
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Zumbi: Follow-up and Questions

In this episode, I go through a handful of questions that were sent in relating to our last episode on Zumbi and the Quilombos dos Palmares. These questions lead us to a lot of interesting places, such as African rooted arts in the Caribbean and present day Quilombos, and has opened up a lot of additional topics for us to go into in future episodes! I hope you enjoy this more casual episode and as always, please send any questions or topic suggestions to my email here: [email protected] Movie: Mestre Moraes Ladainha: Mestre Leopoldinha Ladainha: Mestre Barrao, E Dandara: Mestre Boa Gente: Zumbi, Zumbi, Olha Zumbi: Pretinho, No terreiro da Fazenda: 
7/28/202023 minutes, 55 seconds
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Zumbi and the Quilombos dos Palmares

In this episode, we dive into the history of the Quilombos dos Palmares, as well as the most famous person to come from there, Zumbi! Here we will talk about how the Quilombos came to exist, and why the Palmares were so important to Brazilian and Capoeira history, before digging into who Zumbi was. This was a super fun topic for me to research, and I hope you enjoy it!Please send any questions or comments to [email protected] and I will be organizing a follow-up episode to talk more about Zumbi and the Palmares!Map of the Palmares: in this episode: 
7/21/202036 minutes, 9 seconds
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Capoeira History Introduction

Welcome to my podcast! In this episode I introduce myself and the purpose of this podcast. I hope you'll join me to explore the people and music that have made Capoeira what it is today.My YT channel with movement tutorials: Please email me with any suggestion or questions: [email protected]
7/14/202010 minutes, 19 seconds