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Friday, July 20, 2007

BAHIA ROCKS

Capoeira connects Japan, Brazil


By BRAD SILNUTZER

Experience martial arts with a twist — but probably neither a shimmy nor a waltz — at the two-day Axe Brasil Bahia festival, taking place in Tokyo's Asakusa on July 21-22.

News photo
Members of Capoeira Tempo perform the dance-meets-martial art, capoeira (above); Orquesta do Berimbau Japa~o members play the berimbau, an instrument that often accompanies it. TAKESHI HANZAWA PHOTO (above)
News photo

Axe Brasil Bahia is a celebration of Tokyo's vibrant Brazilian culture and will feature a performance by Capoeira Tempo, a 50-member capoeira group based in Japan.

Capoeira is the Brazilian martial art sometimes described as "dance-fighting" and features graceful, acrobatic moves that wouldn't look out of place at a b-boy convention.

According to Ryuta Suda, chairman of the nonprofit organization Capoeira Tempo, its goal is "to connect Brazilians and Japanese people in Japan through fantastic music and performances from Bahia state, Brazil."

Since capoeira first started to kick up a storm in Japan a decade ago, the Japanese/Brazil connection has been fostered by various crosscultural exchanges. Capoeira Tempo, for example, hosts visiting teachers from Brazil for a month every year.

As a result of these grassroots exchanges — plus the fact that J-pop idols such as Anna Tsuchiya and Kumi Koda have featured capoeira moves in their music videos — there has been a steady growth in the number of Japanese people practicing the art.

"A wide range of people do capoeira. Some are martial-arts fans, Brazilian-music fans, and office ladies and full-time workers who would like to exercise," explains Suda.

Capoeira Tempo uses a different style than many other Japanese groups. "We practice the style called Capoeira Regional, which is rare in Japan nowadays," says Suda. "[It features] energetic, powerful performances, a sophisticated technique, and a variety of music."

The group will be joined by Orquesta do Berimbau Japa~o, a musical group that plays the stringed berimbau, which often accompanies capoeira.

The festival starts at 6 p.m. on both days and takes place at Asahi Art Square in Asakusa. The program is the same on both days. Tickets are 3,000 yen in advance (3,300 yen at the door) and include one drink.

For more information, call (03) 5389-1154 or visit www.capoeira-jp.com

Asahi Art Square, Asahi Super Dry Hall 4F, 1-23-1 Azumabashi, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, is a 7-min. walk from Asakusa Station.



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