The first capoeira studio in Birmingham intends to bring together expressions that promote Brazilian identity
By Melissa Becker, from Birmingham
Under historical arches that support the rail trails on Water Street, in Birmingham, it is possible to hear the sounds of pandeiros, atabaques and berimbaus.
A banner in front of the salt glazed tiled façade explains the source of such atypical music on the streets of the second city. It is the new venue of Brazilian martial arts movement Cordão de Ouro Birmingham (CDOB), the first capoeira studio in the West Midlands. A special opening ceremony is set for September 20.
More than having an infrastructure for the practice in the region, the goal for capoeirista Samuel Mascote, founder of the enterprise, is to transform the place into a Brazilian cultural centre – possibly, the very first in England located outside London.
Although there are events promoting Brazil’s culture across England – such as Brazilica Festival, in Liverpool, or FlipSide, in Suffolk –, Mascote noted the lack of a permanent space.
“I believe that’s the first Brazilian cultural centre for arts, community, learning and events outside London. There are lots of restaurants in other cities and towns, but that’s just the food”, he observes.
The initiative will provide new possibilities, such as the organization of a Carnival party or typical Brazilian June’s party. In order to achieve that, the capoeirista invited other groups and people in the region who are involved with Brazilian culture already to join forces. Among them, there are the Forró in Brum group and Tessa Burwood, director of Brum Spirit project, which brings different communities together.
Professor Mascote, from Nottingham, has started practicing capoeira in his hometown and has improved his skills while living for a year in Bahia, northeast Brazil. With the experience of teaching within the DanceXchange, house of dance, and of having organised an international capoeira festival during one of the main dance events in Europe this year (the Internacional Dance Festival Birmingham, IDFB), Mascote highlights that the initiative does not promote Brazil’s stereotypical image:
“We would like a centre dedicated to showing the Brazilian culture to the British people in a traditional, real way, not only for what they think Brazil’s culture is”.
Tessa (who has organised the English strand of the Espírito Mundo cultural project and has worked together with CDOB during the dance festival) sees another audience who misses a venue like that.
“There’s a quite big Brazilian population living in this region, they come here for different reasons. I have the impression that most of them feel a little dispersed and don’t have a meeting point, like in London, where there are several. It’s good to develop that”, she says.
The Brum Spirit’s director observes that the new studio’s location is advantageous not only for those who live in Birmingham. Capoeira classes and forró meetings in the city usually register the participation of people from other parts, such as Coventry and Nottingham. Apart from being in Birmingham’s central area, the venue is close to the Snow Hill station and the Jewelley Quarter, which concentrates one of Brum’s historical trades and has getting new investments in the last couple of years.
Classes at the studio started in August, however, a special weekend is being planned to mark the official opening, from 19th to 21st September. Guest teachers and masters from across Europe should be present, including the choreographer Irineu Nogueira, from London.
On 20th September (Saturday), there will be free capoeira taster at 4pm and the Tamo Junto – We Are in This Together party, featuring DJ Silence, DJ Feva, Sticky Joe and Forró in Brum.
“The main link is meeting up around the Brazilian culture, but there are room to people expressing themselves creatively in other forms. We have plans to develop a café in the venue, where people could meet each other and keep adding social and creative value to a community”, Tessa adds.
Tickets for the full weekend cost £40 (visiting students, £30). One day only, £25. For the Tamo Junto party, £5 on the door.
The new capoeira studio is located at Arch 32 on Water Street, Birmingham, B3 1HL. Information about the classes on the website: www.cdob.co.uk.