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Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2001

HIGH NOTES

The Asakusa Samba Festival


The Asakusa Samba Festival (Aug. 25) is no doubt the best-known manifestation of Brazilian culture in Tokyo, but if you're looking for a more intimate glimpse of Brazilian dance, music and martial arts, then check out the Capoeira Zoador party this Sunday. Held at Sabbath Tokyo in Harajuku, this mini-carnival will offer not only some slinky samba dancers and Brazilian DJ Edison Mineki Tanji, but a chance to catch some of the best Capoeira you'll find in Japan.

For those who haven't seen it before, Capoeira is unique among martial arts in its intense connection with music and dance. Devised by escaped African slaves but outlawed in Brazil until the 1920s, the practice was disguised through the use of music and dance. Nowadays, they are inseparable: Capoeira is performed with grace and acrobatic flexibility to the rhythms of the berimbau and pandeiro. But never forget that all the moves are based on combat, full of speed and power, beautiful but deadly.

The organizer of this event, Sucuri (who like all Capoeira initiates, goes by his nickname), can testify to that: He shows a long scar across one hand inflicted by a straight-edge razor following one missed move. An American expat who came to Japan after a long stay in Brazil and who wrote his master's thesis on Capoeira music, Sucuri is spreading the word locally with a missionary zeal. As he puts it: "Capoeira is a way a person is given the opportunity to express themselves artistically via music, dance, philosophy, as a human being. Nothing makes me happier than when one of my students' friends tells me how much that person has changed, so much more active, alive, aware of their surroundings. Capoeira builds self-esteem."

Capoeira Zoador, Aug. 12, 7-11:30 p.m., at Sabbath Tokyo in Harajuku, 2-8-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku. Tickets are 3,000 yen with one drink; all proceeds go toward funding Capoeira programs for children in Brazil. For ticket information, call Sabbath at (03) 5411-3335 or check out its Web site at www.sabbath.co.jp For information about lessons, e-mail Sucuri at sucuri@hotmail.com


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