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Spirit & Sound Series // Capoeira: The Music, Movements, and Ritual of the Spirit Circle

March 31 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Part of the Spirit and Sound series, The Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life presents an evening of “Capoeira: The Music, Movements, and Ritual of the Spirit Circle.” The evening will begin with a capoeira demonstration after which there will be a panel discussion on the history, cultural origins, and spiritual significance of capoeira. Topics explored will include: capoeira’s beginnings in Africa, destruction of documentation regarding its development in Brazil, the hybrid nature of the art form (instrument, song, movement, acrobatics, and ritual), and its role as a martial art.

Guest panelists and capoeira performers will include:

  • Master Fabio Aranha Miranda is the highest ranking student and was the first officiated master of Grand Master Claudionor of the Bonfim/Chicote de Couro Capoeira Group of Rio de Janeiro. Master Aranha has trained capoeira for over 30 years and is currently based in Rio dos Ostras, Brazil.  In addition to capoeira, he is also serves as master drummer of the Afro-Brazilian condomble’ religious tradition, a position that he has spent most of his life in the tutelage of. The IRCPL event will mark the first occasion of a master from the Bonfim/Chicote de Couro Capoeira Group visiting and instructing in the United States.
  • Daniel Scruggs has spent over 25 years studying different forms of music and culture and serves as a performer, educator, and advocate for music and cultural studies in education, recreation, and health care. He has developed and facilitated music programs in public and private schools, community centers, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, substance abuse treatment centers, senior centers, large scale festivals, parties, and corporate team building events. He also performs on over a dozen organic and indigenous instruments from throughout the world.
  • Dr. Katya Wesolowski is an anthropologist and dancer currently serving as a Visiting Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. Her work focuses on expressive culture and globalization; bodies and embodiment; the intersections of dance and sport; race, gender and social inequalities; violence and social justice. She is also concerned with the methodological and pedagogical challenges of researching, writing and teaching about ephemeral expressive practices and embodied knowledge such as dance. Her current research and publications focus on the many facets of the Afro-Brazilian game/dance/fight of capoeira, which she also been practicing and teaching for over twenty years.
  • Dr. T.J. Desch-Obi is an Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora History at Baruch College. He specializes in the cultural history of pre-colonial Africa and the African Diaspora. His research interests include martial arts and physical culture, religion, sport, ethnography, oral history, and military history. He is also the author of Fighting For Honor: The History of African Martial Art Traditions in the Atlantic World (University of South Carolina Press, 2008). His current research focuses on the social history of the machete and machete fighting in Africa and the African Diaspora, and on a trans-national history of black boxing styles.
  • Dr. Kristin Soraya Batmanghelichi is a post-doctoral research scholar at the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University. She is an associate faculty member at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and has lectured at Leiden University in the Netherlands and the W.E.B. DuBois Scholar’s Institute, held at Princeton University. Her research focuses on contemporary women’s movements, sexuality and gendered public space in the modern Middle East, and her recent publications on sexuality, government morality, cyberfeminism and women’s activism in Iran can be found in the Journal of Anthropology of the Middle East, Gender and Sexualities within Muslim Cultures, and Feminist Media Histories Journal.

This event will take place Friday, March 31st at Riverside Church room 10T. This event is free and open to the public.


March 31
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Category:


Riverside Church – 10T
91 Claremont Avenue
New York, NY 10027 United States
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