In 2014 capoeira was granted a special protected status as ‘intangible cultural heritage’ by UNESCO. Part dance, part performance, part sport, part martial art, capoeira was developed by West African slaves in Brazil as a way of honing fighting skills in their time off. By masquerading as music and dance, the true nature of capoeira eluded slavemasters.
When I chanced upon this game in a park in Cardiff, the skill and exuberance of the capoeiristas compelled me to stay and film. Afterwards, replaying and rewinding the footage revealed small exchanges – mini-masquerades – rooted in primal relationships being played out through friendship, in a kind of non-verbal banter.
This video appeared at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as part of East Meets West 2 ( 6th October 2016- 6th January 2017)