One of my favorite international events I’ve attended this school year has been the capoeira workshop. An instructor who studied capoeira in England and currently teaches capoiera in Oklahoma City was brought in to conduct the workshop. He taught some basic capoeira moves, but we were also instructed on the history of capoeira. According to the instructor, capoeiristas (those who practice capoeira) are associated with white clothing because they used to practice capoeira on Sundays after church. The most skilled capoeiristas were able to participate in the roda without dirtying their Sunday clothes. This tradition of practicing after church also plays into capoeira technique. The weight of the body is often balanced on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, or the head, so that the rest of the body never comes in contact with the ground. This helped keep the clothes clean when capoeira was practiced in earlier times.
The most enjoyable part of the workshop for me was the opportunity to play the instruments associated with capoeira. The students in attendance were able to take turns learning how to play a pandeiro, which is a tambourine-like instrument, as well as the berimbau, which looks similar to a bow. It is a long wooden tube with a string attached. It is played by plucking the string while holding a small stone against the string to control the tone of the instrument. The weight of the entire instrument is balanced on the pinky, which makes it a bit difficult for beginners to learn. The instructor recommended practicing in small intervals to avoid causing injury until the muscles in the fingers are strong enough to support the berimbau.