/ Modified aug 31, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Capoeira Continues Centuries-Old Tradition In Tucson

Brazilian martial arts tradition of dance, song and percussion has a long-time Tucson home and lots of local fans


The Brazilian cultural tradition of capoeira martial arts is alive and well in Tucson. Twenty-five years alive.

Ann Pollack, director of Capoeira Mandinga Tucson, one of Tucson’s first schools for the martial arts tradition that began in Brazil, says capoeira brings together elements of dance, song, and percussion.

Pollack, a cell biologist who was an accomplished modern jazz dancer before she set out on a journey as a capoeirista 25-years-ago, says the Brazilian tradition originally was used by black slaves to disguise their training to fight for freedom.

Pollack has trained in Brazil with Mestre Lobão, who recently conducted a series of workshops celebrating Capoeira Mandinga’s 25 years in Tucson.

050112 Capoeira Mandinga 617x347 Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art form that was started over 450 years ago in response to the oppression of Africans who were brought to Brazil as slaves, has gained in popularity here in Tucson. We visit Capoeira Mandinga Tucson, where masters from Brazil, and the US recently convened for a week-long event highlighting this unique cultural tradition. (PHOTO: AZPM)

“Capoeira songs tell the story of slavery,” Lobão says. “Even if they don’t tell the history, the students will learn because it is written in the songs.”

Pollack, who was raised in a Jewish family, says that the inter-cultural connections that are being made through capoeira motivate her work, and she thinks people can benefit from the cultural tradition.

She sees “people from different cultures, and different ranks in life, and different levels of wealth, being able to get along. That really drives me," Pollack says. "It makes me want to find a way to bring these different communities together, and I’ve found that capoeira is wonderful mechanism for doing that.”

capoeira-617x347 Anne Pollack and Mestre Lombão play capoeira during an roda
By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
Arizona Public Media broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents. Arizona Public Media and AZPM are registered trademarks of the Arizona Board of Regents.
The University of Arizona