Lazaro Santos, known to students as Mestre Lazaro da Bahia, opened the Capoeira Brazilian Pelourinho in 1995. He started training as a capoeirista as an adolescent in Brazil, and subsequently traveled around the world demonstrating the art before settling in Orlando to open his studio. He is a student of Mestre Dinho of Grupo Internacional de Capoeira Topazio. Capoeira is a martial arts form that combines elements of folk dance and music. It was started centuries ago by African slaves in Brazil as a means of self-defense but was not recognized by the government until 1936. Capoeira players engaged in the jogo or game form a roda or circle around two players who enter with a cartwheel or similar move. Those forming the roda sing traditional capoeira songs while playing the berimbau and other instruments including the pandeiro (tambourine) and atabaque (tall hand drum shaped like a barrel).
Watch a capoeira demonstration by Mestre Lazaro and his students at the 2004 Florida Folklife Festival.
The berimbau, which resembles a large musical bow, is made from a wooden stick strung with a steel string, a gourd with a hole on one side (which resonates), a coin or stone, a thin bamboo stick and a caxixi or basket shaker. To play the berimbau, the bow is balanced by the left hand while holding a coin or stone with the thumb and first finger. The right hand holds the stick to strike the string as well as the caxixi or basket shaker which is also played. Capoeira students typically learn to play one of these instruments before their Batisado (“baptism” or graduation) at which time they will choose a nickname. The tradition of giving capoeira practitioners nicknames began in nineteenth-century Brazil when capoeira was banned by the government and capoeiristas needed to hide their real identity.
Visit the Capoeira Brazilian Pelourinho Website.
Learn more about Latin-American and Spanish traditions in Central Florida:
Learn more about martial arts traditions in Central Florida: