Brazilian blend of martial arts, dance brings community together in SLC

Apr 19, 2022, 3:10 PM | Updated: Jun 11, 2022, 12:03 am

SALT LAKE CITY — On an evening when many took advantage of the warm temperatures, some people at Trolley Square really had some “spring” in their steps.

They gathered Monday for their latest renewal of a time-honored art form combining dance and self-defense — capoeira.

“We like to say that we dance like a fighter and we fight like a dancer, so that’s capoeira,” said instructor Jamaika Romualdo of Salt Lake Capoeira. “It was created by the Africans when they were forced to go to Brazil. They became slaves in the country and they created capoeira as a self-defense disguised as a dance.”

Today, Romualdo — who said he had instructed as many as 3,000 people in his 20 years in Utah — said he sees capoeira as a way to develop music, language, culture, dance and martial arts.

“The best of all, and that’s what I love the most, is the community,” Romualdo said in an interview with KSL TV Monday. “As you see here, there are people from all over. You’ve got people from the Middle East, people from South America, Central America, North America and that’s the beauty of capoeira. And the mission here in Salt Lake City is to try to bring the community together, you know, bring people together through this beautiful art form.”

Those in attendance Monday evening expressed different reasons why they shared a passion for capoeira.

Hannah McCann said she enjoyed learning all the acrobatics as well as generally about the culture that surrounds the art form.

“It’s teaching us all about the history of Brazil and where capoeira came from,” McCann said. “Every movement, there’s a story behind it. All the music has a story and so I think it’s a great way for us to experience and learn about the culture, and we’re all pretty passionate about capoeira, so we’re always spreading it and talking to other people about it.”

Hannah Levine said she was grateful to learn from Romualdo.

“Jamaika is a world-renowned teacher,” Levine said. “He’s as real as it gets — he really is, yeah — so that’s what’s so super cool about this community. It’s authentic and truly positive.”

Adrienne Covington said she used to dance and she started learning capoeira a couple months ago.

“(I) came to one class and was like, ‘I need this — constantly,’” she smiled. “Honestly coming together and meeting an awesome community and singing and dancing — the energy here is like, I always leave feeling a lot better than when I came and that’s a really positive thing.”

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Brazilian blend of martial arts, dance brings community together in SLC