Maculelê

Maculelê is another Brasilian dance form with African roots. Each dancer holds a pair of sticks (12-20 in. long) and the rhythm is beat of four: on the first three beats the dancers hit their own sticks together or against the ground, and on the fourth beat they hit their sticks with that of their partner. Those who are more experienced at this art form perform the dance with machetes rather than sticks. Maculelê is accompanied by drums and sing.

There are many theories about the controversial origin of maculelê. One story is the dance was created by the slaves in the sugar cane fields, who used the stalks of sugar cane and the facaõ, the machete used to cut the sugar cane, to play maculelê. Some say maculelê is a celebration of the harvest, others suggest it had religious significance, and still others say it was danced to practice self-defence techniques to use against the slave masters. Another legend tells of a man who stayed home with the women and children while all the other men went hunting and fishing. When an enemy tribe showed up to attack the village, the man beat off the attackers with sticks and died saving the women and children. Maculelê is a dance in his honor. Some sources say the setting of this story is Africa, others claim it happened among the indigenous Indian tribes in Brasil.

Whatever its origin, maculelê declined after the abolition of slavery in 1888, but Mestre Popo revived the dance form in the early-to-mid 1900s. Today, maculelê is practiced by many capoeira groups worldwide.