How capoeira became a national folk form
Winner of Oscar G. Brockett Book Prize for Dance Research, given by DSA, 2021
Staging Brazil: Choreographies of Capoeira is the first in-depth study of the processes of legitimization and globalization of capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian combat game practiced today throughout the world. Ana Paula Höfling contextualizes the emergence of the two main styles of capoeira, angola and regional, within discourses of race and nation in mid-twentieth century Brazil. This history of capoeira's corporeality, on the page and on the stage, includes analysis of illustrated capoeira manuals and reveals the mutual influences between capoeira practitioners, tourism bureaucrats, intellectuals, artists, and directors of folkloric ensembles. Staging Brazil sheds light on the importance of capoeira in folkloric shows in the 1960s and 70s—both those that catered to tourists visiting Brazil and those that toured abroad and introduced capoeira to the world.
ANA PAULA HÖFLING is an assistant professor of dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She splits her time between North Carolina and Brazil.
"This book is at once a fine biography of capoeira in its kinesthetic specificities and a necessary examination of the narratives that sustain the invention of a modern Brazil. Richly illustrated and drawing from a vast array of sources, both in English and Portuguese, it is a valuable addition to a growing body of work that challenges us to see beyond staged and authentic, loss and retention dichotomies. The subject is fascinating, the research is impeccable, and Höfling writes elegantly and accessibly."~Bianca Freire-Medeiros, author of Touring Poverty
"Staging Brazil represents an important contribution to dance studies, martial arts studies, and Brazilian history. Höfling bridges a major gap in studies of capoeira by investigating capoeira's history in addition to its embodied experience. Rejecting false binaries of tradition versus innovation and Brazilian versus African, Höfling emphasizes choreographic authorship not as a sign of decline but as fundamental to capoeira. Meticulously researched and clearly articulated, Staging Brazil nuances understandings of capoeira by treating modernity and choreographic authorship as central to its practice."~Janet O'Shea, Risk, Failure, Play: What Dance Reveals about Martial Arts Training
"As elaborate and beautiful as capoeira itself! Drawing on interviews, manuals, sketches, photographs, and embodied knowledge, and highlighting the authorship of often overlooked actors, Staging Brazil demonstrates that capoeira elides and eludes the binaries purity/mixture, tradition/modernity, authentic/staged, angola/regional, and black/white."~Patricia de Santana Pinho, Mapping Diaspora: African American Roots Tourism in Brazil
"The depth of Hfling's connection to and respect for the art of capoeira is apparent in her attention to detail; she gives a fair assessment of, and acknowledgment to many lesser-known people surrounding the formation of modern capoeira."~Barry Blumenfeld, Journal of Dance Education