Capoeira, street dancing with a kick

Even on an island steeped in musical culture, like Tenerife, it is possible to be surprised by something different. That was how I felt the first time I passed the church plaza in Los Cristianos and witnessed what I now know to be Capoeira. It was a heady mix of drum rythms, dancing, clapping, chanting and martial art style duels. It always attracts a decent crowd, all as intriqued as I am and fascinated by the agillty and rythm.

Capoeira is a Brazilian art form, inspired by African slaves brought to Brazil in the 16th century, closer scrutiny helped me to appreciate that the high kicks and chops are expressive but don’t connect, this is not about violence. A informal circle called a Roda forms a dance area where the dancers take turns in pairs to face off against each other using their well drilled moves to make their point. I had often wondered about the young gymnasts that practice flips and leaps down on the beach in Las Vistas, well it’s a great free space to work on routines with just soft sand to stop any injuries.

Capoeira is a proud tradition the has spread around the globe and is practised by many Brazilian groups. It’s a small world – but you wouldn’t want to paint it – and the day I took some photos I later thumbed through The Daily Mail in a bar and found Capoeira featured in a story. The Mail were getting very angry and hot under the collar (when don’t they) about Hackney Council funding a local ethnic dance group to learn Capoeira. I picked my way through the rant with a wry smile, some attitudes never change, but at least here in Tenerife, there is a stage for every sort of music, dance and culture. If you want to catch the Los Cristianos crew, Saturday mid afternoon is normally time for the Capoeira feet to fly.