MACULELE- BRAZIL

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MACULELE DANCE, BRAZIL

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Performed in a group by forming a circle called “roda” is a South American dance form known as Maculele. This “mock stick combat” dance is said to have originated from Brazil. Furthermore, this unique dance style involves the use of a stick made from biriba, canzi, or pitia wood. In addition, a few other Brazilian dance styles such as Frevo, Mocambique, Cana Verde etc possess body movements similar to Maculele.

a. History/origin of Maculele:

Although, the background behind the origin of this dance form remains unclear, there exist a few myths in Brazil that could provide a rough explanation for its existence. These myths are as follows:

1 Myth 1: States that during the “slavery era” in Brazil slaves belonging to the sugarcane plantations would play a game using machetes so as to suppress their inherent frustration of being born a slave. It was this game played on the sugarcane field that was transformed into a dance style with machetes being replaced by sticks for safety reasons.

2 Myth 2: States that in Brazil there existed two tribes, one a peace loving and the other war preferring. Now the war preferring tribe had this tendency of repeatedly attacking the peace loving one. Then one day finally a boy belonging to the nonviolent tribe fought back using pair of sticks. Unfortunately, however this boy did not live as he succumbed to the wounds he obtained during the fight. And so it was in honour of this boy’s bravery that the peace loving tribe created this “mock combat dance form” and named it after him i.e. Maculele.

b. Costumes used in the Maculele:

Traditionally, the performers use a skirt that has been made from dried grass.

c. Music involved in the Maculele:

The musical instrument mainly used in this dance style is the Atabaque, a hand drum of Afro-Brazilian origin. In addition, long sticks made from biriba, canzi, or pitia wood is also used as an instrument in creation of music for this dance.

d. Training availability and technique involved in the Maculele:

In terms of technique, the performers initially arrange themselves in a circle called “roda”. Furthermore, two performers then enter the circle and dance to the rhythm of the accompanying music produced by the Atabaque, while striking a pair of wooden sticks they hold in their hands. As for training center/schools, there are none available around the world since this “mock stick combat” dance is mainly performed in Brazil.

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