Capoeira: Game! Dance! Martial Art!


A photo-essay about the history and practice of Capoeira, a centuries-old Brazilian martial art incorporating traditional movements and rhythmic music, that is popular today as an energetic game played throughout the United States and around the world.
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A photo-essay about the history and practice of Capoeira, a centuries-old Brazilian martial art incorporating traditional movements and rhythmic music, that is popular today as an energetic game played throughout the United States and around the world.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Julia Beiker
Legend has it that capoeira, a form of expressive dancing, was brought to Brazil from Africa in the sixteenth century. History records that capoeira was outlawed in the nineteenth century, so the dancers were given nicknames and practiced in secret until 1930 when it was legalized again. In Capoeira, we learn that this dance is characterized by music played on unique looking instruments. The musicians play the berimbau, atabaque, and a reco-reco to produce fast, slow, playful, or aggressive music. Suddenly dancers cartwheel into the center of a circle and begin to lash out with quick action kicks; then, they spin, duck, and dive over each other without touching. These fast motions cause sweat to pour from their skin and their heart rates to excel. This sport or game produces well-conditioned and agile athletes from all ages and ethnic races. The award winning author/photographer, George Ancona, brought capoeira to life through his action packed photographs and writing. The photographs show the expression of the players and how they are not always evenly matched. A young girl could go up against a grown man and still achieve success because skill and shrewdness have more impact then age, size, sex, or weight. I found the African history of capoeira even more interesting then the process itself. Many of the terms used in capoeira are translated on the pages and in the back of the book. This book introduces another way to achieve your highest level of physical conditioning in a fun and exciting way. Reviewer: Julia Beiker
School Library Journal

Gr 2-6
Full-color photos and lively text introduce a sport that "combines dance, music, and acrobatics with fighting techniques." Action-packed pictures of capoeiristas-people who play capoeira-in both the United States and Brazil make this an eye-catching title. Ancona explains the basics of the game before delving into its history, helping readers with no background on the subject gain an understanding of the art before putting it into context. His discussion of the beginnings of capoeira, which was developed primarily by African slaves brought to Brazil. Short biographies of the two founders of the sport's most common modern schools are presented before returning to modern photographs that show some of the differences in styles of play. The participants represent a wide range of ages and ethnicities, reflecting the game's multicultural heritage. A glossary offers pronunciations and definitions for Portuguese words, which are also defined in the narrative. An excellent purchase for libraries that serve Brazilian populations or communities in which martial arts are popular.
—Alana AbbottCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
The most playful of the martial arts takes a star turn in this excellent photo essay done by a master of the genre. Capoeira, an intriguing mixture of fighting, dancing and sport, originated in Brazil as African slaves from Angola adapted a form of fighting into a dance to escape the scrutiny of their masters. The history of capoeira is told succinctly in several pages with accompanying map, an antique print and several sepia-ink-and-wash sketches, but it is the vivid photos filled with diverse young people in today's Brazil and the U.S. that really grip the imagination. The graceful movements of the kids and their teachers (usually quite young themselves) unfold in a cinematic experience that is matched by the explanatory text. Portuguese words and nicknames are used throughout. The music that accompanies this special game is played on the berimbau, a bow-shaped instrument with a gourd attached. The author explains how the music, including drums and other percussive instruments, is used to control the action. For martial-arts fans, armchair travelers and anyone who wants to view a new way of having fun. (bibliography, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781584302681
  • Publisher: Lee & Low Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 9 years
  • Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.30 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    A reviewer

    In Capoeira: Game! Dance! Martial Art!, George Ancona tells the story of Capoeira by following a classroom of students at the Mandiga Academy in Oakland, California. Kids reading the book are sure to get a kick out of the Portuguese nicknames of the students in the classroom from Reizinho (little king), to Perereca (tree frog), to Princesa (princess) to the name of the instructor, Malandro (scoundrel). In fact, Ancona uses a number of Portuguese words throughout the book when talking about Capoeira. He even includes a glossary with a pronunciation key in the back of the book for kids who want to practice speaking the words. Through pictures and Ancona's detailed descriptions these students teach different moves and techniques as well as names of traditional musical instruments used to play music during Capoeira games. Ancona also takes us to Brazil and shows the impact of Capoeira on the Brazilian culture today. From the slums and beaches to actual Capoeira academies, we see vibrant photographs of kids of all ages and walks of life practicing this amazing art. A few years ago, I spent four months teaching English in Brazil and was fortunate enough to see Capoeira being played on the streets. While nothing can compare to seeing it in person, Ancona's book gives us a vivid picture and interesting history of the art.

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