Diversity and Inclusivity with Capoeira

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Photo: Jade Esmeralda

Promoting diversity and inclusivity are two core values shared by both my home institution, Salisbury University, and also The Universities at Shady Grove. According to the mission statement of The Universities at Shady Grove, “USG embraces its responsibility to provide a safe and respectful learning and work environment where diversity is celebrated, affirmed and vigorously pursued.”

As an Exercise Science student attending The Universities at Shady Grove, I also strive to uphold these values in my everyday life. One example is through practicing martial arts, and my involvement with a local non-profit organization, Abadá Capoeira DC. Since 2015, I have trained with Abadá Capoeira DC, and studied with my teacher, Professora Yara Cordeiro. I attend classes on a weekly basis, participate in performances, and continue to work towards furthering my understanding of the art form. Through studying and practicing Capoeira, students can learn universal values such as respect, understanding, and empowerment.

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Photo: Abada Capoeira DC

As a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Abada Capoeira is committed to promoting tolerance and diversity, along with cultivating a sense of community. According to the website of Abada Capoeira DC, “CAPOEIRA (pronounced ka-poo-eyh-rah) is an Afro-Brazilian martial art and self-defense discipline that brings together fighting techniques, acrobatics, dance, percussion, and songs, in a rhythmic dialogue of body, mind, and spirit.” Originally created by enslaved people, sharing the historical traditions of Capoeira and passing on these lessons for future generations is important for many practitioners of the art. In 2014, the artistic expression of Capoeira became recognized as part of the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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Photo: Abada Capoeira DC

Abada Capoeira was first founded by Mestre Camisa in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and today, there are Abada Capoeira programs found all over the world. The mission of Abada Capoeira DC is, “…to promote, spread, and support Brazilian arts and culture through the practice of capoeira, and to use our practice of capoeira and associated arts to build a healthy and more closely connected Washington, DC-area community.”

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Photo: Manna Food Center

Our organization also gives back to the surrounding community through charitable donations. For example, some of our past work includes organizing canned goods donations to the Manna Food Center in Montgomery County, clothes, toys and household items to Goodwill in Virginia, and sponsoring blood drives with the Red Cross.

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Photo: Abada Capoeira DC Batizado 2018

This year, Abada Capoeira DC celebrated a major milestone—ten years of programming in Maryland, Washington, DC and Virginia. In 2008, my teacher, Professora Yara Cordeiro moved from Brazil and founded our branch of Abada Capoeira here in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. On a weekly basis, Abada Capoeira DC offers classes for children through adults. Our group offers the first class free, so feel free to come and check out a trial class sometime!

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Photo: Jade Esmeralda

In August 2017, I participated in a cultural exchange with Abada Capoeira DC, where we traveled together as a group to Brazil. It was truly an invaluable opportunity, and I was able to participate in a series of workshops held at The Centro Educacional Mestre Bimba (CEMB), Cachoeiras de Macacu. Throughout the workshops, students learned more about all of the elements of Capoeira, including the historical context, musical aspects, and physical training of the art. It was my first trip to South America, and to this day, I am incredibly grateful for the experience.

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Photo: Abada Capoeira DC

Earlier this year, Abada Capoeira DC celebrated our 10 year anniversary with a performance entitled, “Brazil – Rhythms and Poetry”. In April, our group performed for two sold-out nights at the Jack Guidone Theater. The show also featured special guest artists from Brazil, who shared an amazing amount of energy with their music and overall artistry. Also in April, we had our Batizado and graduation ceremony event, where we welcomed Mestra Marcia Cigarra, founder of Abadá Capoeira San Francisco.

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Photo: Kennedy Center

These past few weeks have been especially busy for our group, as we have been preparing for an upcoming performance at the Kennedy Center. Tomorrow night, Abada Capoeira DC and Batalá Washington will unite for a showcase at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. This family-friendly event is free of charge, and the performance will begin at 6 pm. If you’re not able to attend in person, feel free to join us for the live video stream through the Kennedy Center’s social media pages.

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Abada Capoeira DC – Cultural Tea Time: Brazil

Last month, Abada Capoeira DC was invited by the Center for Student Engagement & Financial Resources (CSEF) to perform at the Cultural Tea Time event with a focus on Brazil. It was a wonderful opportunity, and I look forward to sharing more about the experience here on the blog soon.

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Photo: Jade Esmeralda

For more information about Abada Capoeira DC, including the weekly class schedule and philosophy of the group, please visit the website here. Obrigada (thank you)!

Written by Jade Esmeralda

About Jade Esmeralda

Aloha! My name is Jade Esmeralda. I am currently a senior at Salisbury University at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG), and my major is Exercise Science with a minor in Health. I plan to graduate in May 2019, and my long-term goal is to pursue a career in physical therapy. In the future, I would like to combine my passion for dance, martial arts, health and rehabilitation by becoming a Doctor in Physical Therapy.
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