Are you ready for some rhythm? Check out the Afro-Brazilian Festival in Carver Gym D on Saturday, May 31. The event will be hosted by the WWU Capoeira Club with support from the department of theatre and dance and will include classes in capoeira, samba and West African dance.

The festival is free for students, $5 for community members and $10 for the festival and the dinner that will follow it. Lunch will be provided and the dinner at the end of the night will include authentic Brazilian food.

WWU Capoeira Club president Lindsey Gard said there will be lessons in all three forms of dance.

“Everyone’s welcome, whether you’ve done it before or haven’t even heard of it,” said Gard.  

Gym D will be jumping with dancers from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art dance form. Its origins are in Africa, but it traveled to Brazil with slaves carried by the Spanish. The dance, which involves a lot of combat-inspired moves, was used by those enslaved people to practice surreptitiously practice fighting, while overseers thought they were dancing.

“There’s so much history and culture, it’s really rich. Capoeira isn’t just movement, it’s the community and the music,” Gard said.

Mestre Silvinho, who teaches Western’s Capoeira Club and is also a leader of the International Angola Capoeira Foundation, will be leading the capoeira portion of the day. Silvinho has been teaching in the Seattle area since 2004 and before that he taught capoeira and Afro-Brazilian music to homeless youth in his native Brazil.

Gard said that many of the people who attended the event a year ago were capoeira enthusiasts who sought out the opportunity to have a class with Mestre Silvinho, but she said new people would be able to jump in and learn along the way.

Samba will suit beginners as well, with easy moves for everyone, whether you can swing your hips or not.

Manimou Camara will teach the West African dance. Originally from Guinea, Camara now teaches in Seattle. He has been a part of some of the most renowned West African dance companies in the world, primarily as a percussionist and is now the artist in residence at Seattle Public Schools, teaching classes all over the state.

Gard said that this event provides a unique window to a culture through a slightly more exciting avenue than a textbook.

“Everyone is welcome to engage in unique cultural practices first-hand by singing, dancing, and eating together,” Gard said. “So much of the time in academia, it examines cultural practices from a distance, and students are not able to connect with the material through the lens in which they view it.”