A little over a year ago, Ithaca Capoeira Angola Quintal went through some difficult but overwhelmingly positive changes. This opened up 2018 as a year of opportunity and growth. With 2019 already upon us, it's a time to reflect on great memories and set the bar high for 2019.
We kicked the year off with massive infrastructural improvements-- boring, yes, but indulge me for a moment. Ithaca CAQ was registered officially with the county, allowing us to form a dedicated bank account created exclusively for the group's operations, and which is not used to financially benefit any member or leader of our local group. This grants our group an amazing level of stability, and gave us the ability to create an up-to-date website and online billing. All long overdue.
Much more importantly, we strengthened our connections with the Mandinga group in Rochester (com Expressão), the student organization for capoeira at Cornell, and... Mestre Ombrinho himself!
Mestre's return to Ithaca was one of the most heartwarming capoeira events I had experienced in years. As if we had flicked on a light switch, we were surrounded by friends and family from Rochester, Cincinnati, Albany, NYC, and even past members from the local area who were excited for the future of the community. I was so happy to be taking classes again with some of the old Cortland crew-- Dave and my first teacher, Gorila.
We spent the weekend honoring Black History, participating in the GIAC Black History Month talent show and being featured for a school day at Boynton Middle School. It was this weekend that planted seeds for our relationships with the Southside Community Center and the Deixa Sambar group at Cornell, which we are very thankful for. By the end of the weekend, we had been featured in two local publications; visited by an old friend, Rouxinol; and made ambitious plans for the future and present of the Ithaca Capoeira Center.
Soon after, in March, we were invited to perform and teach a bit of capoeira as part of an "exploring international culture" day at a school in Corning. Joined by some of our family from CAQ Rochester, the event was a blast for everyone: our group, the students, and the parents and teachers. The woman who invited us there gave us, as a token of gratitude, a batique art-piece representing capoeira, hand-crafted in Brazil. The piece will remain as one of our group's most treasured possessions for decades to come-- a reminder of how quickly we could bring joy to our surrounding communities after turning over a new leaf.
Things started "heating up" in the summer (I will not apologize for this pun). Some of my favorite memories were travels to see our extended families outside Ithaca: a visit to the Seattle Capoeira Center to see CM Mangangá and Mestre Nô, CAQ's annual batizado in NYC, a beach-side roda in Rochester, and the annual IDP festival. Between all of this, we performed locally in the IthacaFest Parade, at the Juneteenth celebration at Southside Community Center, and on the Ithaca Commons during a serene and rejuvenating retreat we hosted with many out-of-town guests. And in between all of THAT, we played outside in several parks, working on our berimbau rhythms and "Apanha Laranja no Chão Tico-tico" games, as described by Mestre Nô in Seattle.
It seems that the summer is a time for celebration in capoeira... and when it starts getting cold, it's a time for planting seeds. As the Fall rolled in, we officially began classes at the Southside Community Center-- a partnership we had been working to create for months.
Then, an amazing retreat in NYC for the teachers of CAQ nationwide to learn directly from Mestre Ombrinho (a good teacher is an even better student!). Our classes at Cornell culminated in a full-throttle performance, free to students, complete with workshops throughout the weekend from Mestre Ombrinho and the Afro Brazil Arts troupe. The next one is already being planned for the Spring semester, and we're going to take it up a notch or five. Honorable mention: somewhere along the way, I picked up a couple of great conga drums for an extremely reasonable price. We've been working our group rhythms... and certainly getting the attention of anyone within earshot!
(gallery credit: Shots Fired Photography)
None of this would be possible without the members of our community, both local and afar. I want to thank every person who came to visit our group, attended our regular classes, taught workshops, or even just sent words of advice, encouragement, and kudos. The progress we've made as a group just in 2018 is incredible, and I am very proud of our local member's hard-earned accomplishments. The levels of respect for self and others, the flow and attention in their games, and musicality have shot through the roof, and it's only going to get better. Our membership has grown quite a bit in just the last couple of months, so we're about to go absolutely crazy in 2019.
And now, we're off to Roanoke, VA, for our friend Ron's grand opening of the new CAQ branch down there. For one of our members, it will be the first capoeira event she's ever attended. New memories start now!