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Capoeira is a movement blended with music, dance and martial arts, and was developed by West Africans that were enslaved in Brazil approximately 500 years ago to disguise their combat training. The dance-like moves and elegant kicks tricked the plantation owners into believing it was an African dance ritual. It is a popular sport in Brazil nowadays, and Rio de Janeiro offers plenty of schools to practice capoeria; here are our best picks of where to try it.
This capoeira school is located in Copacabana and is run by Master Itamar, one of the founders of Grupo Senzala, which has schools in France, Spain and Rio de Janeiro. The classes are available in English, French and Portuguese, making them ideal for both tourists and Brazilians. The classes run on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
The culture center Fundição Progresso in Lapa holds capoeira classes among many other workshops available, such as dance classes and circus performance lessons. These classes in Lapa have a focus on Capoeira Angola, which is considered a traditional style of capoeira with slow, smooth motions that are low to the ground and incorporate low kicks. The classes encourage collective learning, so each class is open to all levels and experience and run on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. To showcase the work and efforts of the students, each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. a roda (a traditional capoeira performance) is performed in the street at the famous Feira Rio Antigo, open for the public to see.
Escola Capoeira Cidadã has three main schools in Rio: in Tanque, Barra da Tijuca and Freguesia. The schools are non-profit with the core aim of preserving the art of capoeira. Master Curumim leads the classes and with more than 20 years of experience has various qualifications tucked under his belt, and is considered a professional expert in the field. The school offers several classes over the course of each day with the full schedule online.
These classes located in Botafogo focus on perfecting the art of Capoeira Angola. The classes are designed to suit all ages, levels and physical condition, welcoming anyone that is keen to take part and try to learn. The classes are led by Master Ferradura who graduated in Capoeria Angola at the Escola de Capoeira Angola do Mestre Marrom (The School of Capoeira Angola of Master Brown) and he offers private and group classes, in addition to classes for children and capoeira shows.
Angola N’Golo is based in the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa and the classes are led by Master Jose Carlos Goncalves, who graduated as a Master in 1978. These classes are more affordable than others in Rio at R$30 a class and attract an energetic, friendly crowd of varying levels. The classes are on Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. or on Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:30 p.m. until 10 p.m.; there are also classes on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Each month at the Mercado das Pulgas in Santa Teresa, the school runs a roda on the last Wednesday of each month that lets students show off their skills to the public.