Volta do Mundo Productions – Voicing out the different takes on the art-form

Among friends, and sometimes in classes and workshops, I have been saying that Capoeira is a curious manifestation because although it can be seen as the outcome of everyone’s interaction it does not belong to anyone. Calango and Daniele are among those who agree with this and have heaps more to contribute to our community.

We also share the believe that there is no universal truth in Capoeira. There are as many truths as the diverse people in the art-form can express; all equally worthwhile to be practised. If today we have only a very few rival ideologies, this is due to the fact that the notion of hierarchy, very different in Capoeira’s past, has been carefully tailored to serve the purposes of a few money and power-driven Mestres. To deconstruct the idea that only these few concurrent ideologies are legitimate and worthwhile upholding in Capoeira, we believe we need to fight to have all the truth, lineages, and takes equally recognised within our community. The Volta do Mundo Productions is an important enterprise tackling this huge task, with an open-minded attitude and free of group/style prejudices. Congrats Calango and Daniele!!! I’m proud to be your friend.

Axé e sucesso para a Volta do Mundo Produções!!

Volta do Mundo Productions

In Capoeira, whenever one of the counterparts performs a good play the other may call for a break in the game called ‘volta do mundo’. S/he does that extending her/his arm in hand-shake position, inviting the other to spin around. Holding hands, in opposed positions within the Roda, the two players move around towards the same direction. During ‘volta do mundo’, however, both counterparts must remain alert, since the game can resume at any time.

In Capoeira philosophy, the ‘volta do mundo’ reminds both players that victories are momentary, transient. The world’s movement is constant and life is in perpetual transformation. Therefore, we must remain alert. The ‘volta do mundo’ also represents a new possibility to try again, to revert the game’s situation, to restart it.

As a lifestyle, capoeira teaches a lot. Therefore, we choose ‘the ‘volta do mundo’ call as a symbol of how we act professionally. We are interacting with our partners, aware of the changes and always willing to restart the game.

The dissemination of the Brazilian culture is the Volta do Mundo Productions’ main motivation.

Obs: This post is an excerpt of the Volta do Mundo Production’s introductory text sourced from their Youtube channel, on 05/10/10. The translation is mine.

Mestre Pastinha and the body as a reasoning system

“Capoeira is sorcery of slaves longing for liberty, its beginning has no method and its end is inconceivable to the wisest of the Mestres”.
Mestre Pastinha.

On the 5th of April of 1889 Mestre Pastinha was born. Since last month I have been trying to pay a tribute to ‘Seu Vicente’, his life and work. The space constrains of a blog post will never allow justice to his devotion to Capoeira neither to the value of his legacy. Nonetheless, posting in english, and combining different sources, I hope to inspire our english-speaker-brothers in their quest for knowledge about our honourable Mestre and Capoeira in general.

With Mestre Pastinha, “for the first time we meet a Capoeira Mestre concerned with the capoeiristas’ spiritual and meta-physics aspects, paving the way to both the pedagogic and therapeutic side of our arte-e-manha (Capoeira)” (Decânio; 1997: 9).

Mestre Pastinha warns us: “Friends, the body is a great system of reason, behind our thoughts lies a powerful Lord, an unknown Wise”; calling attention to an embodied process of education through the practice of Capoeira. More then that, he acknowledges our bodies and not our minds as a ‘system of reason’. An approach that overcomes both the western mind/body dualism and the conventional systems of education. Lessons yet to be learn by most of our societies. (Pastinha, as cited in Decânio; 1997: 9).

The following video clip, produced by Contra-Mestre Marco Antônio (Capoeira Alto Astral Portugal), features images of Mestre Pastinha and English subtitled parts of the above cited manuscripts.

The next video was found quite recently in Brazil and features Mestre Pastinha playing with his students (among them João Pequeno e Bobó) for a TV documentary movie produced by the folklorist Alceu Maynard, in 1959. Unfortunately, the video has no audio.

What follows next is a small biography of Mestre Pastinha sourced from the Centro de Estudos Afro-Orientais – http://www.ceao.ufba.br , and translated by me.

“Mestre Pastinha (Vicente Ferreira Pastinha), was born on the 5th of April of 1889 in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

At the age of 8 he began to learn Capoeira from Benedito, an African elder. He stated he had learnt out of ‘rivalry’. Everyday he was told to go out and buy bread, and everyday a boy waited for him to pass by so he could start a fight with him. And every time he was beaten.

Benedito saw these fights from his house’s window. One day he called Pastinha and asked if he would like to fight the boy and win. In this way his training began in the living room of Benedito’s house. One day, finally, Benedito said that he was ready, that he could pass by that street again, but that he should wait until the boy started the fight. When he passed by the boy said: “Long time no see. Were you afraid?” Pastinha answered: “Yes, I was.” The boy started the fight – and lost. Pastinha studied with Benedito for 2 years.

Aged nearly 13 years he says he joined the Navy, where he spent 10 years and mastered “the whole marine art”. In 1941, at the Largo do Pelourinho, 19, he launched his academia “O Centro Esportivo de Capoeira Angola”. In 1964, he published a book about Capoeira called Capoeira Angola. In 1966 Pastinha travelled to Africa as a guest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil as part of the Brazilian delegation to the 1er Festival Mondial des Arts Nègres in Dakar.

According to Jorge Amado, Pastinha had begun loosing his sight in 1962. Rego (1958: 287) says that in 1968 he was no longer able to play Capoeira, and that although in a state of decay academia was still open. When we met him in 1973 he was already blind, but by no means less lively then in Jorge Amado’s descriptions. He explained us that the Cultural Heritage of the City of Salvador took the building in which his academia had been, for restoration, and that he was living on a pension of seven hundred and few cruzeiros (Brazilian money at that time) per month. (In 1973)

Jorge Amado says: “For me, Pastinha is one of the great figures of Bahia’s popular life”. We have to agree. The City of Salvador should pay tribute to this simple man of fertile and live imagination, so representative of the whole culture and history of Bahia.”

Jogo Aberto Narratives

Often after interviews and talks many of you guys came up with very nice thoughts and/or comments about the questions and/or different issues. I would appreciate if you could share them through this post. Though we won’t be able to use this in the documentary movie, I would still be able to use them in my research, or in future projects, after contacting you in this regard. Continue reading