We sat down with the show’s director, Marcia Treidler, who is a well-known capoeirista under the name Mestranda Marcia “Cigarra,” to talk about the show, capoeira and Brazilian culture in the Mission.
Mission Local: When did you start doing “Spirit Of Brazil”?
Marcia Treidler: The first “Spirit of Brazil” happened in 1996. We have done five shows since; this will be the sixth.
ML: What made you want to create “Spirit Of Brazil”?
MT: I have been in the Bay Area for 20 years, and in the past when I had my first batizado [an annual celebration in which capoeira students graduate from one level to another], there were just a total of 12 students. So in every batizado I was trying to show a little bit of Brazilian culture, and I always included a performance with the graduation. After the group got bigger and there were more students, having a performance and the graduation the same day was too long for the audience. So we decided to separate the events and create “Spirit of Brazil” with a better production, bringing performers from Brazil and having more time for rehearsals.
ML: How do you compare the first show you did in 1996 to this year’s performance?
MT: The biggest challenge for the first show was financial. We didn’t have any funding from any organization, since we didn’t have any credibility yet in terms of professionalism, but since 2005 we have had more support from different organizations, and it’s easier to pay expenses and to have a show as big as this one. We always thought it was very important to do it anyway. It’s really important for us to show Brazilian culture, because that’s a big part of what we do and what ABADA-Capoeira is about. [ABADA is Treidler’s capoeira group.] And it’s great that we have a community of artists that invest a lot in this and who want to be part of it, as well as the grants we have gotten throughout the years because they believe in us.
ML: This year the show will have capoeira samba and Afro-Brazilian percussion. How does that work, with other artists in the show?
MT: I have been working with Gamo da Paz for many years. He is a master percussionist and the leader of Quimbanda; we have done many shows in the past, he was also a resident artist here at ABADA-Capoeira. I know his integrity and he adds so much to the show. Working for the first time with [professional dancer] Raffaela Falchi and Samba Axe, it’s adding a lot as well, because it’s new. It’s samba from Rio, which is something we have not done before, and it is very colorful, very happy…. It’s fun!
ML: What is different in this year’s show?
MT: My goal for this year is to make people feel like they are in Brazil. I want them to leave the performance with the desire to go and visit Brazil. We want to show the heart of the country, where it doesn’t matter what your religion is or where are you coming from; it’s a syncretism of different cultures, and people learn how to live well with each other. This is also true in capoeira history.
ML: What’s the best part of creating and making “Spirit of Brazil” happen?
MT: I really like seeing my students during the whole process — from rehearsing to the end of the last performance, seeing them nervous, stressed and then once it’s over, they have this look in their eyes and their face … of so much pleasure. It’s like being on stage all nervous, and then all of a sudden you are there having an amazing time, enjoying yourself, and you don’t want to leave the stage. You see that all those hours of rehearsal were worth it.
For ticket information, click here.