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New group combines martial arts, dance

March 6, 2008

A new group on campus combines Afro-Brazilian martial arts and rhythmic dance moves into an art form called Capoeira.

The Capoeira student group, which was started in September 2007, is founded and taught by sophomore Camri Naseth. She has been practicing the art form for five years and trains with an instructor in Minnesota.

“Camri is very self-motivated,” professor and club advisor Margarita Hendrickson said.

The art form has a rich history that originates from fighting clubs in early Angola, Africa. African slaves were transported from Angola to Brazil, and brought their unique fighting style with them. The slaves needed to conceal the clubs in Brazil, so they incorporated dance moves into the fights in an attempt to hide the martial arts from police,” Naseth said.

“It was a martial art they would mask as a dance,” Hendrickson said. “But today it’s more of an art form.”

The art form is combined with primal rhythmic music that originates from western Africa and Brazil.

There are different kicks and acrobatic moves that are performed in rhythm with the music.

“It’s like break dancing, but fighting,” student Ross Algiers said. “It’s very unique.”

Capoeira provides a work out for the participants. Beginners will start out learning the basic dance moves and putting them together with a series of blocks and kicks, Naseth said.

“I enjoy it a lot,” Algiers said. “It’s hard, but it’s a lot of fun; it’s a good cardio and muscle strength exercise.”

Capoeira has been growing in popularity, and Hendrickson said she has seen it performed in London, Chicago and the Twin Cities. She said she is excited to see the group here on campus.

“It’s a fun, physical, high disciplined, musical movement,” Hendrickson said.

The group meets Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in room 23 of the Karges center.

“Capoeira is for anyone and everyone,” Naseth said. “Any time, at any age, you can start.”