How was my first roda experience?

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Hello everyone, it is Hanka again with the information about what is happening in the Amazonas. On the 4th of November, the first group roda happened after a veery long time! So, in this article, I will explain to you what Roda is, what instruments are used in capoeira, people’s personal experiences, and share with you my own experience of it as well!

What is roda?

Some of you may have read the title and think What even is roda? Well, let me explain it to you.

A typical capoeira game takes place inside of a circle formed by other capoeiristas and people playing musical instruments, where every participant sings the typical songs, clap their hands, cheer and sway to the music. This circle is called „roda“ and inside of it, the Capoeira game is played between two players. Capoeiristas enter the roda through the space called boca-da-roda, which is the space in front of the instruments. The game starts with two players kneeling in front of the leading berimbau (the main instrument), shaking hands, and entering the roda (0:15). There is also a possibility to enter the roda during the game. In that case, one must „buy a game“ by crouching in the boca-da-roda, and when the appropriate moment comes, he interrupts the game (3:00) and stands in front of the person he wants to play with (or the last person that entered). Typically, the capoeira game finishes when one of the musicians holding berimbau determines it by finishing the song (no music means no game), when one of the players decides to leave or calls the end of the game, or when a new player enters the roda. In general, the ritual of the roda finishes with farewell songs.

Different cultural aspects are represented in the roda, not just the sport aspect. The roda (the circle) is symbolic of life. In Capoeira everything is circular, it represents renewal, something never-ending and therefore ethernal.

Music in capoeira

The capoeira is played to the music. The orchestra usually consists of berimbau, pandeiro, atabaque, and agogô.

The berimbau is the leading instrument of the orchestra, as well as, the most important one. It leads the rhythm, style, and speed of the game and also determines the end of the game. It is a bow-like instrument with an open gourd that acts as an amplifier. There are different sizes of the gourds to make slightly different sounds. The orchestra may also include one or two pandeiros (tambourines), an atabaque (drum), and agogô (bell).

Accompanying the instruments are the call-and-response songs the group sings in Portuguese. These songs may be about mythical capoeira figures, about the historical struggle of Brazilian slaves, or songs with messages to the players. Instructing them and commenting on the game.

How was it?

On the 4th of November, the first roda was held, in August Cesarec Elementary School, after a very long time! Because of Covid measures, it was not possible to enter the schools or gather in bigger groups, therefore, the roda could not be held. For many people, it has been a long time since they could gather and play together. During this roda there were people of different ages, as well as, skills levels present. The children from Tribo Moderna, the beginners in capoeira, as well as, the advanced group all came together to play.  „I couldn‘t take the smile off my face 🙂 Through roda, I remembered why I love capoeira and Amazonas people,“ said Tara, one of the trainers. Vale, the volunteer from France also shared her first experience in the roda: „It was very intense and I had lots of feelings when it started. I have seen lots of videos before but it was so much different. There were a lot of sounds and energy from everyone. Thanks to my trainer I went to play but I was very scared because I didn‘t feel comfortable with my skills. However, I am very happy I played because I realized that nobody was judging me. It was a great moment. I also liked taking pictures and videos of the others. After watching the videos again I realized how good it was again. To conclude, if another roda is happening I will not wait until someone tells me to go and play I will go by myself.“

What was my experience like?

Since I have only started to train capoeira 2 months ago it was my first ever roda with real instruments and so many people with different skill levels. There were people of different ages and different skill levels but it didn‘t matter one bit. To be honest with you, I was very nervous going there, not knowing how it will look like, and with my limited skills, I was afraid to play. However, the atmosphere was unreal! When everyone started singing, clapping and the instruments started playing you could feel the power and all the positive energy in the air. It just made you want to join. So I did! And it was a great experience. Even though I felt like I forgot all we practiced and only did the most basic moves it still didn‘t matter. It just felt great to be a part of it. Of course, when the advanced players played together they showed off all their skills and fancy kicks and jumps. However, when they played with the kids or the beginners you could see the patience with which they played. They didn‘t try to show how much better and more skilled they are. No, they were guiding and helping us to feel more comfortable and secure. And that was the beauty of it.

To conclude, if you ever have the chance to participate in the roda (even if it is just to stand in the circle and enjoy the atmosphere) you should definitely try and go!

That is all from me for this article! See you next month!

Hanka