Design by Emily Irwin/AS Publicity Center

Allison Milton/The AS Review

The AS Capoeira Club is hosting an Afro-Brazilian Festival at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 23 in the VU Multipurpose Room.  The event will combine music, dance and food from the Brazilian culture. The festival will feature dance classes on Capoeira, as well as West African and Samba dance styles, which will be taught by professional dance instructors from the Seattle area.

The event is free for all Western students with ID and $10 for members of the community.

Capoeira is a dance style that originated from Afro-Brazilian slaves, Capoeira Club President Juliet Holzknecht said. Because the slaves were not allowed to fight, they would disguise their martial art style of fighting as a dance, which they used to rebel and escape from their slave owners, Holzknecht said. This dance style they created allowed them to form a community, she said.

Holzknecht describes Capoeira, which will be taught by Contra Mestre Silvinho, as a mix between martial arts and gymnastics.

Samba, which will be taught by Dora Oliveira Newman, is a dance that involves fast footwork and hip shaking, Holzknecht said. The last, dance taught by Manimou Camara, is West African dance, which contains big and “out there elements” in rhythm to the drums, Holzknecht said.

“It’s all about feeling the music,” she said.

Accompanying a day of dance lessons will be a breakout session at 2 p.m. for learning how to play the instruments that go along with Capoeira. At that time, participants can experiment with the sounds of the various instruments in order to learn how to better put their moves to music.

Holzknecht, who attended a similar event in Seattle, said an Afro-Brazilian festival will capture students’ interests in learning and experiencing these dance techniques. She hopes that students who attend the event will learn the beauty and cultural significance of Capoeira and the physical level of it.

“The entire day will be a fantastic workout and is open to any skill level,” she said. “The instructors are all so energetic, so much fun and full of energy. They make you want to get up and dance because they are so passionate about what they teach.”

Participants in the festival are not required to attend each dance session and may come and go as they please.

Following the classes will be a dinner featuring Brazilian food. Anyone participating in the day’s event, whether it is one class or all three, is invited to attend the free dinner, which will begin at 6 p.m.

Professional dancer or not, this festival will meet participants at whatever skill level they are at. Holzknecht said the dance instructors will challenge you to try new things, but will also take you step by step in the process. She said the Capoeira teacher, Silvinho, will teach participants a lot about headstands, but not everyone is obligated to try it.

So whether it is for the free dance instruction, the music lesson or the Brazilian food, the Afro-Brazilian festival will be a daylong event of cultural and dance education. And of course, there is no need to visit the gym on Sunday because the fast-paced footwork and the mixed martial arts will ensure that you break a sweat.

The schedule of events for the festival is as follows:

10 to 12 p.m.: Capoeira Angola
12:30 to 2 p.m.: West African Dance
2 to 2:30 p.m.: Capoeira Music
2:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Samba Class
4 to 6 p.m.: Free Play Capoeira
6 to 8 p.m.: Brazilian Dinner