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Global Faire 2022 Recap: South America

On Friday, November 11, the anticipated tradition of celebrating a culturally vibrant region of the world took place. This year, Global Faire was centered around South America, an area known for cultural diversity from its many ethnic and indigenous groups, delicious food, and Latin flair. We learned about a variety of topics from the numerous presenters, and many posters lured visitors in with mouthwatering food—freshly grilled arepas with steam still billowing from their crispy crust, prompted an enormous line through the courtyard, transporting us to South America through the power of food.

While running a booth, I saw the event from a different perspective. Prepping brigadeiro, Brazilian chocolate fudge balls rolled in sprinkles, pão de queijo, tapioca cheese bread, and a poster while juggling school work was a daunting but rewarding task. If you couldn’t make it to my booth, I can summarize it briefly. I presented on soccer, as soccer, especially the World Cup, is very important in Brazilian society—as is the case with many other South American countries—and the World Cup starts on November 20. While the smells of arepas and bright posters made me want to leave my booth, the questions from viewers tethered me to my stand. While I would’ve also enjoyed doing a tour of the other booths, teaching about my poster and handing out food was also fun. After getting the chance to wander around and look at booths, there was an announcement to sit down and watch the performance: a special Brazilian dance from a Berkeley-based organization.

Capoeira, a traditional Brazilian martial art with elements of dance and acrobatics, was presented in the courtyard. In addition to other dancers, Nemo, Polvo, and Furacão flipped, cartwheeled, and choreographed in a capoeira dance, a dance that broke many students’ limits of what a dance could or should be. Their instruments—berimbaus and an atabaque—accompanied the graceful acrobatics and kicks. Students joined in from the audience, learning a simple version of the centuries-old performance and experiencing a crucial element of South American culture: dance. Some courageous students even did cartwheels and kicks alongside the professionals themselves! From tango and samba to capoeira and salsa, Global Faire showed us that dance is a unique part of South American society.

Capoeira, in particular, has a deep history rooted in the middle passage of the 17th century. It began with African traditions that were brought over to Brazil through Portuguese colonists—holding beginnings within enslaved African culture. Enslaved people created the dance to disguise martial art as a dance with the end goal of liberty and independence. In 1888 when Brazil outlawed slavery, capoeira was banned, stemming from fears of a revolt from formerly enslaved people. But capoeira never stopped in Brazil—instead, they tried to disguise it as a folk dance, which helped keep the tradition alive. The ban on capoeira was lifted in 1940, and today, capoeira, Brazil’s most prominent dance and martial art, is the second largest sport in the nation, behind only soccer.


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