Capoeira é para todos
Capoeira is for Everyone!
Interview by Emma Maruska, Practical Arts Teacher & DEI Committee
Davia Moore brings her love of capoeira to our students this fall through our enrichment programming. As a parent to 4-year old Sophia in TWS’s Star Garden classroom, Davia will be sharing her special talents in this unique martial art with 4th through 8th grade students.
Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that, to the eye, looks like acrobatics, fancy footwork, and kicks. The physical art is enriched by the drummed music, Portuguese singing, and stories of a culture and history far from our Tucson desert.
While Davia is most focused on making connections with the children, explaining the intricacies of this movement art in a way that makes sense, building on foundational skills before exploring more complex tactics, she also knows the deeply important story of how this beautiful art form came to be. “Africans who were enslaved in Brazil could not openly express their joy, hope or good energy, for fear of being further oppressed,” she explains. “So, they channeled their feelings into this movement art form, which, through the body gestures and music, reflects the spirituality and culture of the African people who developed it. Freeing one’s heart, mind and soul through the body was one way that this oppressed culture learned to survive, thrive, and share their story. The words of the songs used are often metaphors for the places, experiences, and history of the people. For instance, it was common to use cattle herding songs in the roda, the circle that capoeira is practiced in,” Davia says.
Davia discovered the art, color, dance, energy, and culture of capoeira when she was 13 and attended one of her brother’s performances in Tempe titled, “Do Brazi”(From Brazil). At 14, she joined the first capoeira school in Arizona, Capoeira Malandragem, which was downtown Tucson in the Orts Dance Studio at that time. For the next 10 years, Davia practiced and performed and traveled with a group of youth. Led by a highly regarded martial arts instructor, Mestre Enxu, Dondi Marble, Davia’s group learned capoeira with a much more hands-on, martial arts approach, which was forward-thinking and ahead of the curve across the country on what could be done in the United States within the art.
In 2008, Davia moved to the Bay Area and joined a satellite school, Casa de Cultura (House of Culture) under the direction of Mestre Acordeone and Mestra Suellen in Berkley, California. Over the next 10 years, she received specialized training and certification in sharing capoeira with others. She has taught enrichment classes predominately through The East Bay Center for Performing Arts in Richmond, California, for people of all abilities and backgrounds. She believes capoeira is for everyone. Introverted individuals are often the best students as they absorb all the foundational skill building before exploring the performance aspects of the art. Extroverts learn to harness their energy and focus it for bodily expression. Both dancers and folks who lack flexibility develop in their body awareness.
“In this art, we teach each other self-respect,” says Davia. “We learn to respect our peers as people who can balance us in this art.” Davia explains that capoeira teaches us when an artist should make a move and when it’s not a good idea. “Attitude and intention are both important to keep oneself aware of. You must go with the flow, sometimes evading a kick and sometimes defending in circular or angular ways. There are times when you will initiate a kick and others when you need to know how to get out of the way.”
This fall’s after-school enrichment session will begin with an introduction to capoeira. “The first couple of classes will be a Meet and Greet,” says Davia. “We will begin with some of the movements and start to sing a few capoeira songs in Portuguese. We will learn to play traditional instruments in capoeira from Brazil. And, we will begin practicing light acrobatics, kicks, defenses, flexibility, cohesive movement, working together, and even some direct impact target kicking.”
Davia is excited to establish a capoeira group in her new TWS community. “I am a child of a Waldorf upbringing,” she says. “I am excited to share this beautiful art form with the children here. I would like to see a group form that grows together through the year and beyond.”
If your child is curious about capoeira, this class offers a welcoming introduction to an artform enriched with culture, movement and community. Davia looks forward to sharing her passion with your student!