The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Self-Expression Through Capoeira

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Capoeira, a Brazilan martial arts, helps students embrace the idea of dancing as a form of resisting oppression. Photo by Hung Nguyen. 

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Victoria Meyer '20 learns how to embrace a sense of self-expression through a Brazilan martial arts lesson. Photo by Hung Nguyen. 

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Fabio “Fua” Nascimiento, Capoeira instructor, encourages students to embrace the music of Capoeira and not care about how they appear to other people. Photo by Hung Nguyen. 

During last week’s Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) we had the opportunity to practice Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art.

Our Capoeira instructor, Fabio “Fua” Nascimiento began our session by teaching us a Brazilian song. We learned each lyric and emphasized each tone. Next, Fua taught us how to play several Brazilian instruments, and we combined our singing with music. As Fua noticed our hesitation to sing loudly, he taught us a valuable lesson. Fua explained that his culture has no word for “awkward” and the feeling does not exist in his culture. As Fua’s energy brightened the room, I noticed I was no longer scared to sing amongst my group. Rather, Fua encouraged me to embrace Capoeira and not care about how I appeared to other people.

As we moved to the dancing and martial arts section of the session, Fua taught us another valuable insight from his culture. He began to talk about oppression, both in the historical and modern context. Challenging my belief that oppression stems from a cruel dictator, Fua explained that oppression occurs in everyday life. He said that oppression, while still emerging from an oppressor, is further permitted by each of us. We need to internally resist oppression through personality and life experiences. For example, Fua explained that Capoeira was developed as a form of resisting oppression and slavery in Brazil.

Our Capoeira session taught me that I have the ability to control my life. Rather than feeling scared of what others may think, I have learned the importance of self-expression. This session also gave me new insight into Brazilian culture. I truly enjoyed this RGLP session and anticipate being more appreciative of the historical context to which cultural phenomena are developed.

-Written by Victoria Meyer ’20, 17S Rockefeller Global Leaderhip Program Participant 

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