Ginga Capoeira in Straus Square [Video]
Sitting at the confluence of East Broadway, Rutgers, and Canal Streets is Straus Square, a veritable crossroads of cultures. Broadly speaking, to the south and west is deep Chinatown; to the east is a small but strong enclave of religious Jewish living; and north is very well gentrified. Not to mention the popular taxi relief stand just outside the Seward Park perimeter. Anyway, much like our favorite people-watching perch at The Pit, Straus Square offers its fair share of street entertainment.
Early Saturday evening, the triangular median transformed into a vibrant performance space for some local Capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial arts form. Backed by the rhythmic berimbau-driven music, a group of about twenty active participants assembled in a textbook Roda, the traditional dance circle for Capoeiristas. Two-by-two, skilled students took turns competing in brief no-contact dance fights, utilizing a wide array of leg-sweeping acrobatics. Their conspicuous presence attracted plenty of spectators, most of whom recorded the excitement on phones and cameras.
This public Roda was an effort to promote the local Ginga Capoeira school, run by Brazilian transplant Professor Kiki da Bahia. But more importantly, a fundraiser to help support the program which provides schooling in the nearby Benjamin Altman School (PS42) at 71 Hester Street.
Capoeira was popularized stateside in 1993 with the theatrical release of Only the Strong. It remains a cult classic to this day.