When you think of a school trip focused around dance and learning more about the different styles, you may not immediately think of taking students to a lake in Italy. But with its close proximity to some of the major Italian cities and a stunning setting, Lake Garda is an ideal place to learn about dance – Capoeira, specifically.
Situated in the northern part of the country between Milan and Venice, Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy. Fringed by numerous towns and villages, it is a vibrant and creative region. Students on a dance focused school trip to Lake Garda can learn about the wonderful Capoeira form of dance – its history, its moves and its intricate relationship with martial arts.
Originating in Brazil, probably in the 16th century, Capoeira is a form of artistic expression combining music with dance in a way that evolved from the movements of traditional Brazilian natives and African slaves. Over the years, Capoeira was used not only as a dance, but as a martial arts style of movement. It was adopted by a variety of bodyguards and fighters as it gained recognition across the country. Since the 1970s, while hip-hop was forming in New York City, Capoeira was moving away from Brazil and across the world, and it has since gained massive momentum.
The moves of Capoeira can be broken down in to three main ones: the ginga, the attacks and the defence. The ginga is the motion of rocking back and forth. In doing this, it keeps the Capoeirista in motion so that they do not get stuck in a still state and become an easy target for their opponent. Students must also learn about attacks and how and when to use them. Most of the moves involved in an attack are completed using the legs and the knees, with the long round-kicks playing a big role in most of the direct hits and takedowns. In defence, the Capoeirista is not focused on blocking the attack so much as moving to avoid the attack, and this is where the basic movement of the ginga comes into play. The avoidances are called esquivas, and are made by moving, bending, and leaning on the floor, and a Capoeirista should only block the hit if avoiding it is impossible.
An experience abroad on a school trip
While the basic moves of Capoeira can, of course, be learned in a studio setting in the UK, travelling on a school trip to a foreign country to learn more about this, and other, dances can be an invaluable experience for young, up-and-coming performers. In a different context, and with varying cultural differences, any form of dance can take on new meaning for performers. As well as assisting in their creative evolution, students can explore a new culture, meet new people and extend their education beyond a mere classroom situation.