Heat up with Brazilian deadly dancing

By JR Ancheta
Sun Star Columnist

It was a Monday night, and a curious percussive beat played from a set of speakers located at the second-level studio of the Student Recreation Center (SRC). A group of students swayed and danced in sync with the rhythm of the music. This group is UAF’s ABADA Capoeira Club. Capoeira (kap-oo-air-uh) is a Brazilian martial art originally developed by slaves from Africa. The martial art was disguised through traditions and dance that caught on in Brazil.

"In no other martial art is acceptable into going to a headstand, which is really fun!" said Adam Bender, a senior majoring in physics. Bender has been practicing capoeira for four years. JR Ancheta / Sun Star

“There’s something in it for everybody: we teach music, we teach songs, the movement itself incorporates dance,” said leader Jesse “Guereiro” Wrightsman, explaining that capoeira is an excellent outlet for musical or physical expression. “If you are willing to do your best, you can do capoeira,” he said.

Not only does capoeira have physical health benefits, it also supports positive mental health through improving self-confidence, according to the Capoeira Brasil Boston Academy. Here in Fairbanks, capoeira helps members stay active in the long, dark winters. The deadly dancing martial art also teaches newcomers the discipline and skill of self defense. Members of the ABADA Capoeira Club highly recommend capoeira and assert that anyone can learn it.

“There’s no other martial art [that] feels as organic or as fluid as capoeira does,” Adam Bender said. “[In] no other martial art is [it] acceptable into going to a headstand, which is really fun!” Bender explained he became interested after watching YouTube videos and wanted to do something active in winter.

The club fluctuates from six to 12 participants each session, but the group is determined to engage more people.

“Through recruitment with the club, I’d like to see a school start here,” Wrightsman said. Most members agree that bringing in a Mestre, a master teacher in capoeira, is the ultimate goal they’d like to achieve.

ABADA Capoeira Club meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:00-9:30 p.m. at the SRC.

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