Mestre Acordeon brought capoeria, an Afro-Brazilion form of martial arts, to America from Brazil decades ago. Starting in September, three days after his seventieth birthday, he'll undertake a journey to spread capoeria around the world, on a year-long, 14,000-mile bike ride from Berkeley, California to Bahia, Brazil that's been dubbed B2B. But before he starts that ride, Mestre Acordeon (who also goes by Ubirajara Almeida) is coming to Denver to kick off his crusade. The action starts tonight with the Denver Cruisers; Mestre Acordean joins the festivities tomorrow.
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Why was Denver chosen for the kick off? "Primarily, the Project B2B launch events are held here in Denver because Canto Do Galo is one of Mestre Acordeon's larger schools. He heads up the United Capoeira Association with schools all over the U.S., but the Denver school is close to his heart," explains B2B events coordinator Allan Talusan. "Mestre Galo, who runs the Denver studio, is one of very few American mestres, and some of us capoeiristas help Mestre Acordeon organize and market his brands and Project B2B. Besides that, he also trains at altitude occasionally, with rides in Summit County and Denver proper in preparation for his 14,000-mile trek. He is planning to train some this weekend in between events and workshops."
Acordeon is a musician as well as a martial artist, and capoeira is as much about the music and mood as the actual competition. A typical capoeira match has two capoeiristas who perform an energetic dialogue with their bodies within a circle of percussionists; nonstop attacks, defenses and counterattacks take place during the match. Though the competition can be intense, the general mood during matches is playful.
Mestre Galo took time out from planning the festivities for his mentor to answer a few questions.
Westword:How did you get involved with capoeira?
Mestre Galo:In the mid-'80s -- before capoeira was "out" in the U.S. -- I saw a magazine interview of Mestre Acordeon; I was captivated by its description and history. I found a student of his teaching in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I moved there and it all began.
What are your thoughts on Mestre Acordeon's bike journey?
Fits his MO, age not withstanding! He is a visionary and a pioneer who also understands the value of maintaining an intimacy in all undertakings, large or small. This journey is a great opportunity to display the completely unique offerings that capoeira has for our species.
What makes capoeira an "art of life," as it says on your website?
Capoeira is such a comprehensively engaging "art-tivity," one is brought together with others who are, at their own pace, realizing the value of saturating themselves into something of value and beauty rather than spreading out thin over all the offerings of the modern life. Capoeira skills require and foster a "spillover" into daily life.
5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 5: Denver Cruisers kick off the festivities. After the ride, there will be a capoeira demonstration and a live Brazilian percussion band at Cervantes, 2637 Welton Street.
Thursday, June 6: There will be another capoeira demonstation at 16th and Arapahoe streets from 7:30 p.m. until dusk.
Friday, June 7: Capoeira workshops during the day at the Canto Do Galo Capoeira Studio at 910 Santa Fe Drive. At 6 p.m. there will be a demonstration at La Academia at the Denver Inner City Parish, 910 Galapago Street.
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Saturday, June 8: Canto do Galo's eighteenth annual Batizado starts at La Academia at 5 p.m. Adults are $10, children 5-12 $5, children under 5 are free. That's followed by the B2B launch party; doors open at 10:30 p.m. at The Lobby, 2191 Arapahoe Street. The party will feature Boulder-based Brazilian band Ginga Band. There's a $10 cover charge.
Sunday, June 9: Barbecue at 2 p.m. in Sunken Gardens Park, 1099 Speer Boulevard.