The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

RGLP Recap: Capoeira with Fabio Nascimento

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This is a session recap of the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) from a participant's perspective.

Fua Nascimento guides the RGLP participants through a lesson of capoeira, a Brazilian style of dance-fighting. Photo by Philip Son '16.

This week’s session was unlike any other I’ve experienced so far. Not only was the meeting on Tuesday—a day later than our usual Monday meeting time—but it was also completely different in format. Whereas most of the sessions up to now have consisted of a group dialogue with a series of exercises moderated by a leadership training expert, on Tuesday we met in the gym to be introduced to the Brazilian style of dance-fighting called capoeira
We walked into the large dance studio and Fabio “Fua” Nascimento, our instructor for the evening, greeted us enthusiastically. Fua is an impressive and vibrant teacher; he is tall, with dark skin, an artful tangle of dreadlocks, the lean and muscular build of a dancer, and a strong mind and personality. He began the lesson by introducing us to the term axé, which is both the social energy generated by a group of people acting together (i.e. the frantic giggling energy produced by college students during a their first-ever capoeira lesson) and the energy exuded by individuals (i.e. the commanding presence of a capoeira teacher with more than 20 years’ experience leading a group of giggling college students). 
 Next, he lead us through a song, followed by some up-close-and-personal dance moves, and then we got into the meat of the lesson. When performed by experienced practitioners, capoeira looks like flowing water. The steps, lunges, twists, jumps, kicks, and spins blend seamlessly together into a rhythmic dance punctuated by strikes of surprising force. When performed by rookie college students, it quickly becomes apparent how difficult it is to make the moves flow together like that.

More impressive than the fluid motions of the vicious dance, however, was Fua's earnest and encouraging manner. At various points throughout the lesson, he would call for silence and speak in detail about certain aspects of the practice. Over the course of our two hours together, he touched on the importance of feeling comfortable with one’s own body, the roles of religious syncretism, Brazil’s multicultural history in the development of capoeira as art form of resistance, the positive effects of ending the constant search for outside approval, and being willing to be open and honest about our identities. This was an excellent lesson not only in basic capoeira, but also in leading by example, leading with the full force of one’s personality, and leading with a infectious grin at all times.
-Written by Elijah Turner '16, Fall 2015 RGLP Participant
This ongoing series explores sessions of the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program (RGLP) through participant narratives. RGLP engages Dartmouth students who have demonstrated leadership skills and would like to extend these skills on a globally conscious level. In this program, students focus on and further develop international leadership competencies, which have become increasingly crucial in corporate, public and non-profit sectors today.

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