Category: DANCE

8 Dance Performances to See in N.Y.C. This Weekend

AMERICAN BALLET THEATER’S NEW YORK SUMMER INTENSIVE at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (July 26, noon and 2:30 p.m.). Curious about the next generation of dancers? Two afternoon performances wrap up Ballet Theater’s 24th annual training program, directed by Kate Lydon, for dancers ages 12 to 20. Students of the five-week intensive, under the instruction of former company members including Cynthia Harvey, Leslie Browne, Lupe Serrano and Cheryl Yeager, will perform selections from “Coppélia,” “Don Quixote,” “Giselle,” “La Bayadère,” “Swan Lake,” “The Sleeping Beauty” and August Bournonville’s “Le Conservatoire.”
212-477-3030, ext. 3416; abt.org

BOY BLUE at Gerald W. Lynch Theater (Aug. 1-3, 7:30 p.m.). This East London hip-hop group, last seen at the 2018 White Light Festival, returns to Lincoln Center for an encore of its acclaimed political and virtuosic “Blak Whyte Gray.” Presented this time by the Mostly Mozart Festival, the company explores themes of oppression, identity and transcendence. Michael Asante (also known as Mikey J) is credited with creative direction and music, while Kenrick Sandy (who goes by H2O) is the piece’s choreographer.
212-721-6500, lincolncenter.org/mostly-mozart-festival

YOSHIKO CHUMA AND THE SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS at the Invisible Dog (July 26, 7 p.m.). Chuma, a veteran experimental choreographer and conceptual artist, presents the final presentation of “My Diary: Secret Journey to Tipping Utopia.” In it, musicians, dancers and designers interact, but never directly as fragments of sound, text and action — a metaphor for the cycle of life — fluctuate between states of utopia and war. Chuma has been in residency at the Invisible Dog since July 1.
theinvisibledog.org

COMPAGNIE HERVÉ KOUBI at Prospect Park Bandshell (July 27, 8 p.m.). For the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, this company led by Koubi, a French-Algerian choreographer, presents his evening-length “What the Day Owes to the Night.” With a cast of 12 French-Algerian and African dancers, this vibrant production combines capoeira, martial arts, hip-hop and contemporary dance; it’s Koubi’s signature work and his second collaboration with street dancers from Algeria and Burkina Faso.
718-683-5600, bricartsmedia.org

JACOB’S PILLOW DANCE FESTIVAL in Becket, Mass. (through Aug. 25). This weekend, the festival hosts the Paul Taylor Dance Company in repertory works and the tap choreographer Caleb Teicher with the composer and pianist Conrad Tao for their collaboration “More Forever” (both performances run through Sunday). In the coming week, “The Day,” an anticipated piece by the cellist Maya Beiser, the dancer Wendy Whelan and the choreographer Lucinda Childs, has its premiere; the production, which features music by David Lang, explores memory and resilience (Wednesday through Aug. 4). Also, A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham offers a mixed repertory program, which includes his own works as well as one by Andrea Miller (Wednesday through Aug. 4).
413-243-0745, jacobspillow.org

MADE IN N.Y.C. 2.0: NEXT GENERATION TRADITIONS at Hearst Plaza (July 28, 1 p.m.). As part of its Heritage Sunday series, Lincoln Center Out of Doors presents this free, mixed bill featuring Redobles de Cultura, a collective of three New York City Afro-Puerto Rican bomba practitioners; Sri Lankan Dance Academy of New York, an intergenerational group based in Staten Island; Michael Winograd & the Honorable Mentshn, a Brooklyn klezmer group; and Inkarayku, an Andean band that performs Quechua folk songs and dance music. This presentation highlights the art and culture of first- and second-generation New Yorkers.
212-721-6500, lincolncenter.org

92Y MOBILE DANCE FILM FESTIVAL at the 92nd Street Y (July 27, 4, 5:30 and 7 p.m.). How often have you lost track of time watching dance videos on your smartphone? Here’s an opportunity to see three programs’ worth — 48 films in all — at the 92Y’s second annual festival celebrating works shot on mobile devices. Its international jury considered more than 100 submissions from 14 countries, including Argentina, Cuba, France, Greece and Japan. The selected films include David Fernandez’s “The Clock,” Rebecca Gillespie’s “The French Girl,” and Roma Flowers and Nina Martin’s “Secondary Surfaces Redreamed.”
212-415-5500, 92y.org

YOUNG DANCEMAKERS COMPANY at various locations (July 26, 7 p.m.; July 28 and 31 and Aug. 1, 2 p.m.; July 30, 1 p.m.; through Aug. 3). This dance ensemble, which comprises students from New York City public high schools, continues its 24th annual touring season, taking place at different locations across four boroughs, from the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan on Friday to the Kumble Theater in Brooklyn on Tuesday. Since the end of June, the young dance artists have developed original choreography under the guidance of Alice Teirstein and Jessica Gaynor, as well as the 2019 guest artist John Heginbotham, and now present the end result in these free public showings.
youngdancemakerscompany.org

Strippers Are Doing It for Themselves

Around 10 most nights, Nikeisah Newton hops into her car for a 10-minute drive into downtown Portland, Ore., so that she can deliver healthy meals that include ingredients like massaged kale to strippers working the evening shift. “One of the best forms of activism is feeding people,” Ms. Newton said. Her company is called Meals 4 Six Inch Heels, and it’s intended to support a community that she feels has been shunned and taken advantage of for too long.

Ms. Newton, whose ex-girlfriend is a former stripper, has joined a wave of dancers and their allies across the nation who are fighting to reform labor practices; put an end to sexual harassment and discrimination in their workplaces; and stifle the stigma around what they believe is as legitimate a profession as any.

Members of this movement are sharing their experiences with the public through podcasts, books and visual arts; using technology to spread information about their industry; and protesting injustices in the streets. They are also finding ways to care for each other, with meal-delivery services, yoga classes, book clubs, clothing lines with slogans of solidarity, financial planning lessons and comedy workshops.

When you use the word “platform” now in the stripping community, it’s as likely to refer to social media as shoes. At V-Live in Los Angeles, guests are encouraged to use their phones to take videos and photos of the dancers. On a recent evening, a photographer circled the dancers, taking images that they could later buy to use on their Instagram accounts.

The water-cooler conversations in the 1980s and ’90s, with the mainstream movies “Flashdance,” “Showgirls” and “Striptease,” may be coming back, as strippers return to the big screen in September with “Hustlers,” about dancers who steal money from their rich customers.

The film features the celebrities Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo and Constance Wu. Cardi B, a megastar, takes pride in and has spoken positively about her experiences with stripping. Beyoncé’s best-selling album, “Lemonade,” has a song called “6 Inch” about working as a stripper. Magic City and other clubs in Atlanta are well known among hip-hop fans as places where musicians test out new songs.

And across America, the face of stripping, and its audience, is changing. No longer the domain solely of finance bros and the like unwinding after hours, strip clubs these days are also frequented by couples and friends.

“Our audiences in the last 10 years, specific to my home club, have become more diverse, younger, more gender broad,” said Elle Stanger, 32, who has worked as a stripper for a decade and lives in Portland. “It’s not just middle-aged white men anymore.”

Ballet May Be Beautiful, But It’s Still a Sport By Sarah Spellings

The majority of us might not know a Développé from an Assemblé, but we all know two things about ballet: One, it’s difficult. And two, it’s beautiful. The ballerina’s challenge is to hide how hard she’s working, which is why behind-the-scenes ballet stories are always so appealing — it’s satisfying to see the athleticism inherent to the art.

Olivia Bee’s photos, below, are a new addition to the genre. The photographer spent nine days photographing the dancers at American Ballet Theatre in New York City. Her shots include rehearsals for the ballet Jane Eyre and a performance of Harlequinade on the opening night of the company’s spring season.

To prepare for her plunge into the depths of elite ballet, Bee took some “beginner beginner beginner ballet classes” — her first since she was 5 years old. “The classes I took helped me get more in the dancers’ heads and be more predictive of movements.” In her photos, you can feel the whoosh of the pirouettes and the barely there tapping sound of a dozen dancers landing after a jump.

But Bee’s favorite subject is the way dancers of all levels relate to each other. She said it reminded her of what she had seen while photographing a ranch crew: “I think with any lifestyle that’s that intensive, people become family. You have to lift each other up and support each other.”

There’s a shift when the photographs move beyond the practice studios and go on stage. Suddenly, the edges go blurry. The ballerinas feel less like dancers or athletes, and more like figures in a dream sequence. “In my work I like to explore dreamscapes based in reality and human emotion,” Bee explained. “Ballet sweeps you away — I hoped to convey this in the images.” The impressionistic quality is heightened by the colorful, exaggerated costumes used in Harlequinade. The Degas comparisons are unavoidable, but this is like a Degas that’s only accessible in a dream.

Review: New doc shows how Beyoncé changed Coachella, forever

Beyoncé is extremely private, and only lets you know what she wants you to know, when she wants you to know it — typically, in a surprise post be it on her website or Instagram.
But throughout the years, she’s slightly cracked open her door to reveal parts of her life and personality — apart from what she gives through strong singing and extraordinary dance moves — to help remind us that though she is epic and flawless, she is still mortal.
“HOMECOMING: A film by Beyoncé,” which premiered Wednesday on Netflix, captures the human side of the superstar singer with behind-the-scenes, intimate moments of a mother, wife and artist tirelessly working on what’s already become one of most iconic musical performances of all-time: Beyoncé’s headlining show at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
The performance marked the first time a black woman headlined the famed festival and made Beyoncé just the third woman to score the gig, behind Bjork and Lady Gaga. Beyoncé took on the role seriously — as she does all live performances — giving the audience a rousing, terrific and new show highlighted by a full marching band, majorette dancers, steppers and more that is the norm at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The film takes it a step further to showcase what was happening to get to the historic moment: you see a mother bouncing back from giving birth to twins via an emergency C-section; an African American woman embracing her family’s history and paying tribute to black college culture and honoring black art; and the world’s No. 1 pop star defying the odds yet again and pushing herself to new heights, creating an even wider space between herself and whoever is No. 2.
Simply put, Beyoncé changed Coachella — forever — and performing after her is like trying to out-ace Serena Williams or dunk better than Michael Jordan: You won’t win.
Woven into the film are audio soundbites from popular figures to help narrate the story: Nina Simone speaks about blackness, Maya Angelou talks about truth, and Tessa Thompson and Danai Gurira explain the importance of seeing people who look like you on large screens.
Beyoncé speaks, too, saying that she dreamed of attending an HBCU, though she explains: “My college was Destiny’s Child.”
She also says the importance of her Coachella performance was to bring “our culture to Coachella” and highlight “everyone that had never seen themselves represented.”


So many people were represented during those performances last April — her stage was packed with about 200 performers, from dancers to singers to band and orchestra players. Beyoncé kicked of the performance dressed like an African queen, walking up the stage as the jazzy, soulful big band sound of New Orleans is played. After letting her dancers and backing band shine, she emerges again, this time dressed down — like a studious, eager, hopeful college student.
The musical direction and song selection flows effortlessly and was purposely crafted to tell a story: the first song is 2003’s “Crazy In Love,” a massively successful No. 1 hit and her first apart from Destiny’s Child. It also was Beyoncé’s first of many collaborations with Jay-Z. But then comes “Freedom,” representing the Beyoncé of today, unconcerned with having a radio or streaming hit, but more focused on the art, and the message.
And her message was loud and clear on “HOMECOMING”: Her performance is a homage to the culturally rich homecoming events held annually at HBCUs, but also showcases Beyoncé’s own homecoming — her return to her roots, and how she’s found a new voice by reinterpreting her music through the lens of black history.
Young, gifted and black, indeed.

“HOMECOMING: A film by Beyoncé,” a Netflix release, is rated TV-MA. Running time: 137 minutes. Four stars out of four.

It’s Just a Matter of Time Till Everybody Loves Lizzo

As much as she loves herself.

Under no circumstances will Lizzo play “Flight of the Bumblebee” tonight. Don’t get her wrong. She’s a classically trained flautist, in addition to a singer and rapper, and could twerk circles while playing it (that’s a trademark). But as far as songs go, “ ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ is for basic bitches,” declares Lizzo, and tonight she needs a show-off song.

Crystal halter and skirt by Kelsey Randall at kelseyrandall.com.
Earrings by Lynn Ban at lynnban.com. Ring by Fred Leighton at fredleighton.com.
Ring by Tiffany & Co. at tiffany.com. Photo: Pari Dukovic

It’s two hours before a live taping of 2 Dope Queens’ HBO special, and hosts Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson have asked her to perform her signature move, but the stakes — HBO, the 3,000-person-deep audience at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre — call for the kind of song that will make eyes widen, jaws drop. Normally, the trill-filled missile in Lizzo’s arsenal is 19th-century French composer Jean-Baptiste Arban’s “Carnival of Venice,” a song that requires the lung capacity of a runner trained at high altitude and the ability to double-, sometimes triple-, tongue. Except a producer just apologetically entered the dressing room to tell her she’s so so sorry, but she can’t play that particular song. Something about legal. Clearance. Rights.

What to play? she wonders aloud in a mild panic to the eight or so people milling about. The producer helpfully starts suggesting other legally cleared songs. “How about ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’?”

Dress by Sally Lapointe at 11honore.com. Earrings by Area
at Barneys New York. Photo: Pari Dukovic

People are often surprised that Lizzo can actually play the flute. At 30, she’s been playing for 20 years, since she was a preteen in her Houston junior high school’s marching band and people would tell her “that shit is corny!” She went to the University of Houston on a music scholarship. She practices four hours a day when her schedule permits. The flute even has its own Instagram account, @sashabefluting (it follows no one). She’s played on most of her albums, starting with 2015’s Big GRRRL Small World, and does so again on her forthcoming major-label release, Cuz I Love You, which drops this spring.

The junior-high punks might have called her corny, but like most hobbies people mock you for in adolescence, it’s now one of her greatest assets. The flute is earning her Shade Room–blessed viral fame, especially after one particularly notable moment from a performance at the University of Iowa’s homecoming. As she tells it, that video was born out of a direct challenge to her ability to play the flute — or to perform at all. During sound check, a professor threatened to report her to campus police unless she showed permits. “The privilege that you have to have to walk up to young women, brown women, black women, and yell, ‘Do you have a permit to be here?’ While we’re clearly onstage with microphones singing and dancing,” says Lizzo, shaking off phantom pangs of annoyance. She was so fired up that night, she told the audience the story, then ripped into a flute reworking of “Big Shot,” from Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther soundtrack, while she and her two dancers, dubbed the Big GRRRLS, hit the shoot with more ferocious joy than BlocBoy JB ever had, even though he invented the dance. She ended by lobbing her trademark “Bitch!”

“That ‘Bitch!’ was from the bottom of my heart,” Lizzo tells me. “That was for anybody who tries to stop my shine and tries to challenge my existence. Don’t challenge my motherfucking right to be here, bitch.” She posted a video with the caption “have u ever seen a bitch play flute then hit the shoot?” And since nobody had, it got half a million views. People started making Lizzo flute YouTube mash-up videos. She released a single version of it called “Bye Bitch.”

When Lizzo plays the flute, it’s a gentle “Fuck you, yes I can,” to everyone who is surprised to see her take the stage in a spandex bodysuit and play a song by an old Frenchman. She knows she’s doing something with the instrument that nobody’s ever done (please see: recent Instagram videos from her album-listening party in an L.A. strip club — a singular moment in flute-performance history). Her career has been full of those kinds of expectation-defying swerves, ones that shock, delight, and challenge preconceptions. And not just ours, but her own. “I’ve said it before, but me just existing is revolutionary,” she says again. People think they know what to expect from a pop star, but then they meet Lizzo.

She pulls out her beloved Sasha Flute (so named for Beyoncé’s third album, Sasha Fierce) and begins to run scales. “I could play some fake jazz shit, but that’s boring.” She improvises some exaggerated riffs in the key of Anchorman. Finally she decides to play “Bye Bitch,” in tribute to her viral moment. She tests a few bars, making sure she can play and clap cheeks at the same time. She can.

Sunglasses by Givenchy, similar styles at 747 Madison Ave. Fishnet bodysuit by Dreamgirl at trashy.com. Bodysuit (underneath) by Christian Siriano. Photo: Pari Dukovic
Bodysuit by LemonGirl at amazon.com. Rings (left to right): Pearl ring by Mikimoto at 730 Fifth Ave. Ring by Tiffany & Co. at tiffany.com. Ring by Kwiat at kwiat.com.
Ring by Bulgari at bulgari.com. Photo: Pari Dukovic

In January, Lizzo released “Juice,” an energetic funk affirmation that should have Bruno Mars watching his throne. When she sings, “If I’m shinin’, everybody gonna shine,” in the song’s bridge, it’s both an earworm and a mission statement. By her own declaration, Lizzo has been at the forefront of the positive movement. Which positive movement? All of them. She’s sex positive, body positive (hers and yours), vocally practices self-love and self-care. “I am a pioneer in creating modern self-love, body-positive music,” she explains, which could ring cheesy — or, worse, totally disingenuous. But it isn’t just the modern twists she puts on old self-help sentiment (e.g., “I just took a DNA test; turns out I’m 100 percent that bitch”) that keep it from teetering over the line. It’s the fact that Lizzo has been teaching herself to be 100 percent that bitch since she was Melissa Jefferson, a self-described dorky, overweight preteen.

Lizzo’s family moved to Houston from Detroit when she was 9. Her parents worked long hours building a succession of businesses, and her two older siblings were often doing their own thing, so music was an early babysitter. In sixth grade, “the flute chose her,” when her school’s band director asked Lizzo if she wanted to learn the instrument. At 14, she formed her first rap group, the Cornrow Clique, with two of her classmates and got her nickname, Lizzo. (She was originally Lissa, but Jay-Z’s “Izzo” was a popular song at the time.) She could rap — which should have made her popular — but she was in marching band, so she wasn’t. Also she smiled too much and laughed too loud. Sometimes she wore hippie clothes, like flowing shirts and bell-bottom jeans. She listened to Radiohead and Death Cab for Cutie because her older sister did. She wore Uggs, the tipping point. Her classmates said she was “too white.” “But like, Lil Wayne also wore Uggs,” she points out.

She started college in 2005, but by her junior year, she felt trapped by all of the boxes she was trying to fit herself into. Was she an AKA, making the rounds at all the historically black sorority and fraternity parties? Was she the rapper performing at late-night shows? Was she pursuing the flute professionally and committing to 7 a.m. master classes? She couldn’t make all those identities fit together, so she dropped out. Her parents had moved to Denver, and without the dorms, she often slept in her car, a T-boned 1990s Subaru. But the universe always offers another weird portal — and a floor to sleep on. In 2008, she joined her first real band, playing the flute in the prog-rock-inflected Ellypseas. “I dead-ass asked them if they wanted to get on MTV.” They did not. She didn’t realize it then — or maybe she was afraid to admit it — but those were her ambitions. The band never made it to TRL, but it was good enough to book shows at South by Southwest.

She slept at the band’s rehearsal space, sometimes on the drummer’s floor. “I would drive around to my friends’ houses, and if they were having dinner, I’d be like, ‘Hey, come hang out! You got some food? Let’s kick it!’ And just eat the chicken and rice. Actually, I was a vegetarian. So I would eat the chicken-juice-soaked rice.” She shrugs. “I was like, ‘I’m too broke to have morals.’ ”

In 2010, the band retired, and her father passed away. She communicates with him now, through a psychic medium she frequently visits in L.A., but at the time, it sank her into a depression. She finally answered her mother’s pleas and joined her in Denver. Ten months later, restless, she moved to Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis, at the behest of a friend who thought she’d like the music scene there. She did. Aaron Mader, a.k.a. Lazerbeak, a local producer and member of rap collective Doomtree, describes the Minneapolis scene as a collaborative utopia. One night Lizzo could open for a punk band; the next, she could collaborate with an electronic band. She lent backup vocals for a rock-soul group and performed at the legendary First Ave, the venue made famous by Prince. To prepare, she watched Purple Rain, took a rowboat into the middle of Lake Minnetonka, and purified herself, just like Prince did in the movie.

For all the diversity of genres, though, the scene was still dominated by white dudes. Younger acts — especially women and women of color — found it difficult to break through, but it also meant that people noticed Lizzo a lot faster. “When someone is a force and has an energy about her that is pretty magnetic, it didn’t take her long for people to pay attention,” says Mader.

Lizzo formed two bands. First, the Chalice, which made melodic pop with a little bit of rap like the Spice Girls. Later, she and the Chalice’s Sophia Eris started GRRRL PRTY and went full N.W.A, explains Lizzo. “We were crazy,” recalls Eris. “It was like a riot onstage. Women just like drinking, cussing, and rapping and singing.” GRRRL PRTY became a local darling. Even Prince took notice, asking them to record a song, “Boytrouble,” and inviting them to play a show at Paisley Park. They couldn’t curse or drink onstage, but they did get to play in front of a projection of Finding Nemo.

On the side, Lizzo was also working on solo material. She felt a lot of anger and sometimes a crisis of confidence. She needed an outlet. “There’s one line on my first album where I say, ‘I got a lot on my chest, so here’s my breast reduction.’ ” She’s referring to a line from “Hot Dish,” off Lizzobangers, which she worked on with Lazerbeak. They met when she tweeted, “I wish I could afford a Lazerbeak beat,” and he responded, “Just give me a case Mike’s Hard Lemonade.” After Lizzobangers, she entered what she calls her artsy-fartsy phase, which, like any good indie musicians in 2015, included bangs, a visit to Bon Iver’s Wisconsin studio, April Base, and a Pitchfork mention. The album that resulted, Big GRRRL Small World, persuaded Atlantic to sign her, and she moved to L.A., taking as much of her Minneapolis crew as she could. Next thing she knew, she was opening for acts like Sleater-Kinney, Florence + the Machine, and Haim.

READ MORE:https://www.thecut.com/2019/02/lizzo-flute-pop-star.html#_ga=2.63061932.287947512.1549715447-494555555.1549456758

Nyle DiMarco Remade Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” Music Video in American Sign Language

“Ariana dropped 7rings with captions, we dropped in SIGN LANGUAGE.”

Fans of Ariana Grande may have to wait until February 8 for her newest album to drop, but thanks to Nyle DiMarco we’ve officially received an epic — and jewel-studded — take on Ari’s latest single “7 Rings.” Just days after releasing the neon pink–hued video, the America’s Next Top Modelwinner unveiled his own video version of the track, complete with American Sign Language.

Nyle, who has remained outspoken about providing closed-captioning in both movies and music, released his remake (which was directed by Jake Wilson) on Monday. He wrote on Twitter, “@arianagrande dropped 7rings with captions, we dropped in SIGN LANGUAGE.”

The release of Nyle’s video comes after the model had previously asked for VEVO and Ariana to provide captions on the singer’s “thank u, next” video. At the time, he explained the reasoning for his request, writing, “You earn more than 650 mill per year and can’t even add captions to @ArianaGrande’s #ThankUNextVideo. There ARE closed caption services that will cost you ONLY $6 (or less) to INSTANTLY appeal to a wider audience There are 466mill people with hearing loss thank u, next.” The “7 Rings” video was subsequently released with captions available. In addition to making Ariana’s music even more accessible to people who are deaf, Nyle’s signed music video has also earned the seal of approval from Ariana herself. The singer responded to the release on January 28, tweeting, “beyond 🖤 love this so much.” And while Nyle’s version of the video is abbreviated, it does include plenty of references to the original, including one scene that has the model posing on countertops à la Ari.

Along with earning the support of Ariana, fans on social media also shared their appreciation for Nyle’s video. “As a member of the deaf community, I STAN,” one follower tweeted. Another follower then shared their excitement, writing, “Wow Nyleeeeee finally something on trend I can share with my mom!! This made me so happy you’re such a firecracker. You did that!!!!” And with a new Ariana album just around the corner, we’re hoping that maybe these two can collaborate on something in the future.

The Physical and Spiritual Art of Capoeira


Mestre Lua Santana playing at Permangolinha, the three-day retreat run
by Mestre Cobra Mansa.

VALENÇA, Brazil — The white-bearded, dreadlocked master and his bushy-haired student face off in an open-sided compound set amid cacao trees and coffee bushes.

The two are in constant motion, swinging back and forth in what is called the ginga — the fundamental movement of the Brazilian combat game capoeira. At times, the way they feint and kick, and roll under and over and around each other, looks like choreographed dance.

But then one side does something the other is not expecting, and it becomes clear that this is a game of strategy, not a planned dance. Mestre Cobra Mansa’s ginga transforms into the movement of a staggering drunk, then a marionette whose puppeteer has suddenly let the string go slack. Then he’s in a handstand. From there, a leg strikes out like a lightning bolt, stopping just short of hitting his opponent’s face.

The circle of men and women surrounding the combatants are engaged in a hypnotic call-and-response song about an encounter with a dangerous snake. It’s intoned to the beat of Afro-Brazilian drums and the twang of single-stringed gourd instruments called berimbaus.

“Valha-me deus, Senhor São Bento,” the circle intones in Portuguese, beseeching Saint Benedict for protection.

The participants — Brazilians mostly, but also Uruguayans, Russians, Ethiopians and Puerto Ricans — have come to the 80-acre property of Mestre Cobra Mansa (or, Master Tame Snake) on the outskirts of Valença, a small coastal city in Bahia, for a three-day retreat called Permangolinha. Its name (and its purpose) are a mash-up of the sustainable farming system known as permaculture and Capoeira Angola, the capoeira style that Mestre Cobra Mansa, 58, teaches.

The event also attracts masters friendly with Mestre Cobra Mansa, including Mestre Lua Santana, from the interior of the state; and Mestra Gegê, a rare female master who also teaches in Valença.


Roberio Silva, 34, from Bahia, Brazil, at a daily capoeira practice.

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/13/arts/dance/capoeira-permangolinha-cobra-mansa.html?action=click&module=Features&pgtype=Homepage