Fly Away Beetle’s London Premiere!

Movement for Change
The Capoeiragem Conference 2011

Between June 30 and the 3rd of July, the city of London will be hosting The Capoeiragem Conference 2011. As its first edition, the conference will be a tribute to two of the greatest Capoeira masters still alive: Mestre João Grande and Mestre Gato.

Co-Producer Marcio Abreu, and Cinematographer Ben Garvey will be representing the film making team, and conducting a Question and Answer session after the World Premiere.

Mestre João Grande was born in Bahia, in 1933, and was one of the main students of the legendary Mestre Pastinha, also known as the guardian of the traditions of Capoeira Angola. In 1995, he received a Honorary Doctorate Degree of Humane Letters from Upsala College, in New Jersey, and in 2001 he was awarded the National Heritage Fellowship from the NEA, which is one of the most prestigious awards given to practitioners of traditional arts in the US. Mestre João Grande currently lives in New York City. He has given an invaluable contribution to the process of revitalization of Capoeira Angola in Brazil and to the spread of this art throughout the world.

Mestre Gato is one of the founder members of Grupo Senzala de Capoeira whose rootsare in Rio de Janeiro since 1963. Mestre Gato beyond being a well known capoeirista by the end of the sixties is one of the core members of the group who developed a Capoeira teaching method that influenced most of the contemporary capoeira training. Grupo Senzala kept a strong connection with the old guard masters from Bahia and Rio de Janeiro initially with Mestres Bimba and Pastinha and later with Mestres João Pequeno and João Grande, Paulo dos Anjos, Decânio and others from Salvador and Artur Emídio, Leopoldina and others from Rio de Janeiro. Mestre Gato has been teaching in UK since 1989.

Both Masters will be present at the Capoeiragem Conference 2011, giving Capoeira workshops and sharing their life experiences with participants of the event. The event will also feature a lecture about the Angolan roots of Capoeira as a presentation of a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and conducted by Dr. Matthias Rodrigues Assunção, professor of the University of Essex and author of the book Capoeira: The History of an Afro-Brazilian Martial Art.

In addition, the Capoeiragem Conference 2011 will also fundraise for BIDNA Capoeira, a charitable organisation that uses Capoeira as a tool to help children in the Middle East. The intrinsic value of Capoeira as an instrument for positive self-transformation is now recognized all over the world. On that same note, the launch of the Capoeiragem Conference 2011 will be hosted by the Canning House with the World Premier of the documentary-film Fly Away Beetle, by Bluedot Productions.

Fly Away Beetle was shot in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, in 2006. The film features three world renowned masters (Olavo dos Santos, Boca Rica, and Cobra Mansa) who tell of the oppressive conditions during and after slavery which shaped the unique art form of Capoeira. Sharing radically different views their focuses range from the violence of Capoeira’s early days, to the modern social benefits of Capoeira for a youth in troubled times. The documentary also tells the true story of Roque Batista, a young man who lived under bridges on the streets of Salvador and who turned to Capoeira in order to save himself from destitution.

Weaving between interviews, rare old footage, and modern exhibitions of Capoeira, the film tells the stories of these people. In so doing, connections to slavery, Candomblé and magic are discovered. Tales of the legendary Besouro Preto (Black Beetle – the flying Capoeirista) acquaint us with a mystical and enigmatic figure, as much legend as historical, who mastered the arts of African magic.

The Capoeiragem Conference 2011 is being hosted by Kabula Arts  in partnership with other Capoeira groups from the city of London, UK and Bassula Capoeira Originals. The event will serve as a meeting point for the European Capoeira community, functioning as a perfect platform for exchanging knowledge, experience and, of course, lots of Capoeira!