Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Improvising in Portuguese

On Tuesdays Lucas has Capoeira at school, so we dress him up in his white stretchy pants and his little tank top all emblazoned with the logo of the group that teaches there. It's a Regional group, which is not the style I train (Angola), so I'll forgive him the lack of sleeves and shoes. He's only three and hopefully some day he'll want to train Angola instead of, or as well as, Regional.

Sometimes when we dress him up we start singing Capoeira songs and I have even been known to play a little bit of Capoeira with him before we head out of the house. We did that today, and I started singing Parana ê, which is quite possibly the most famous Capoeira song of them all.

Once we left the house, Lucas started singing Parana ê again, and I joined in, improvising lyrics in Portuguese.

A loose translation:

Me: Oh Lucas is a cutie guy, Parana, he likes to play Capoeira, Parana.

Lucas: Ruan!

Me: What?

Lucas: Sing about Ruan!

Me: Oh Ruan is big and tall, Parana, he doesn't play Capoeira, Parana.

Lucas: Me! Sing about how I'm little!

Me: Oh Lucas is teeny tiny, Parana, but he still goes in the Roda, Parana.

He likes to suck his thumb, Parana, we can't get him to stop, Parana.

Of course he was sucking his thumb as I sang that. There were two women walking in front of us and they were looking back at us and laughing. Lucas gets lots of attention when he goes to school in his Capoeira clothes. Actually, he gets a lot of attention anyways- I didn't realize quite how much until we started meeting some people who live and work in the Largo- and they would tell us (mostly Evani, actually) how they'd always see me walking around with him and how wonderful Lucas' hair is.

I tend to not notice people notice me- one of the things I started doing early on when I moved here was to screen out almost everyone around me. I knew they were all looking at me, and rather than look back at all of them it was easier to just shut them all out. I know what it is to be in a minority- not an oppressed minority, but a minority nonetheless. It's an experience everyone should have.

So back to Capoeira. Improvising lyrics in Capoeira is an art- an art I haven't mastered very well, and something I'm really only capable of doing when I'm not at a roda, and especially not when I'm playing a berimbau. It's generally all I can do to remember the words I already know to the songs, let alone make up new ones. That was fine in New York, where my mestre João Grande really didn't want us to improvise at all. Here, it's a different story. You can improvise all you want.

I made it back to Capoeira yesterday, the first time since the last time I wrote a post about it. Which was (shudder) over a month ago. Sigh. I'm gonna give it up for real one of these days, but not quite yet.

I'm having a lull in my work schedule for the first time in months, which is terrifying since I'm a freelancer. I'm trying to take advantage of the dry spell and do some other things, like get back to Capoeira. Also hang out with the family a bit more, like we did on Sunday when we took a long overdue trip to the beach. I should really be trying to make artwork, and crank out stickers and drawings and such, but getting all stressed out over my lack of paying work isn't helping to motivate me. I did go and buy some fresh cans of spray paint for the first time in a couple months, and that was invigorating. If a lack of billable hours isn't artistically inspiring, hanging out with graffiteiros tends to be a bit more so. I hope to do so again soon. But there will be no 'Sunday is Graffiti Day' this week, unless I choose to call it 'Sunday is Paint My Name Sloppily by the Side of the Road With Everybody Waiting In The Car Day.' I think I'll just skip it.


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