Maculelê is a dynamic and rhythmic Brazilian dance form with African roots that is danced in a roda (circle) and with long wooden grimas (sticks). Drums and singing accompany the dance with the dancers rhythmically hitting their own and each other’s sticks, as well as rhythmically striking the ground.
There are many theories about the origin of maculelê. Some believe that the dance was created by enslaved people in the sugarcane fields, who used the stalks of sugar cane and the facaõ, the machete used to cut the sugarcane, to play maculelê and vent their anger and frustration at being enslaved. Some say maculelê is a celebration of the harvest, while others suggest it reflects religious significance. Still others say it was danced to practice self-defense techniques against the slave masters. Another legend, which some say is set in Africa and others claim belongs to the indigenous Brazilian Indian tribes, describes a man who stayed home with the women and children while all the other men went hunting and fishing. When an enemy tribe showed up to attack the village, the man beat off the attackers with sticks and died saving the women and children. As a result, maculelê is a dance in his honor. Maculelê declined after the abolition of slavery in 1888, but was revived in the early-to-mid 1900s. Today maculelê is practiced by many Capoeira groups worldwide.
Irenio “Ginga” dos Santos is a dancer, educator and choreographer who started his studies in dance at the Park School in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. He performed and toured with various folkloric groups such as: Katendê, Viva Bahia, Grupo Folklorico SENAC, SESC, and Exaltacaõ a Bahia. Ginga da Bahia choreographed for Experimental Urban Folklore in Salvador. In New York City, among many events, he has performed in “Ologundê” at Peter Norton Symphony Space and has been the heart of the Saturday Brazil Night at S.O.B.’s, performing samba, orixás dance, axé, maculelê, and capoeira; and bringing people together on the dance floor for more than 10 years.
Brought to you by the Department of Drama, Theatre and Dance and the Latin American and Latino Studies Program.