There’s not meant to be any physical contact in this age-old, ritualistic melding of martial arts and breakdancing. Your instructor probably explained that, though unless you happen to speak Portuguese you probably didn’t understand (and if you did, would you trust it to be true?). But you’re ready to give it a whirl; who knows, you may even get to sing or play an instrument to help keep the beat – tambourine, drum, some kind of gourd with strung beads. Probably not the berimbau, a stringed bow struck while positioned against your stomach; that looks more difficult. In fact, it all looks difficult: how can the dancer-combatants fly and spin with such grace, spending as much time on their hands and airborne as on their feet? Maybe you should just passively observe, or head back to any number of street corners in Salvador, where capoeiristas cartwheel and kick encircled by onlookers. And save your own handstand prowess for another day.

The Associacao de Capoeira Mestre Bimba, Rua das Laranjeiras 1, is Salvador’s foremost dance school and sometimes has classes open to tourists.


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