Hooked On Capoeira
Mixing dance and martial arts can lead to self-discovery.
az Michaeli was a young man with
a grand idea when he founded the
Michigan Center for Capoeira in
He was excited about bringing capoeira,
an Afro-Brazilian movement that com-
bines martial art with dance and music, to
the area by teaching and demonstrating it
everywhere he could.
Today, at the ripe old age of 26, Michaeli
is celebrating the fifth anniversary of
his school with a four-day celebration
Thursday-Sunday, Aug. 2-5, at Franklin
Athletic Club in Southfield, where he
works as a personal trainer, and at Troy
Capoeira (pronounced capo-era) does
more than develop strength, flexibility
and endurance, and lead to self-discovery.
Michaeli said those who practice it belong
to a welcoming community.
"That's what attracted me to capoeira
when I was introduced to it while living
in Israel," said Michaeli, who earned his
capoeira instructor certification from the
Zinman College of Physical Education and
Sports Sciences at the Wingate Institute in
"If you want to learn, you'll be accepted
with open arms regardless of your age,
gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs or build,"
he said. "That was so important to me
because I wasn't a popular kid when I was
growing up, and I had a tough childhood."
Michaeli is teaching about 50 adults and
20 children in weekly classes at Franklin
Athletic Club and Troy Dance Studio.
The West Bloomfield resident also
promotes capoeira through workshops at
kids' camps and performances at festivals,
fairs and fundraisers.
Because capoeira has so many elements,
Michaeli said, there's something in it for
just about everyone.
Participants, dressed in white outfits
with symbolic cordaos (belts), perform on
their own or in pairs in a roda
(circle) accompanied by Portuguese songs
and South American rhythms.
Capoeira was created in the 19th cen-
tury by Brazilian slaves, who initially used
the moves for self-defense.
Laura Novkov, 30, of Canton is one of
Michaeli's most enthusiastic
"Once you try capoeira,
you have to come back for
more. You can't do it one time
and walk away. Once it's in
you, it's in you for life:' she
said. "It's fun, relaxing and
a great workout. Plus, I love
the capoeira community. The
people are wonderful."
Novkov said she found out Baz Michaeli
about capoeira while doing
an Internet search for a mar-
new students. Students receive their first
tial art she could practice that wasn't full
cordao after performing with their teacher
in a roda. During the troca de cordao, stu-
"The more I read about its history and
dents who have earned their next cordao
the involvement in dance and music, the
perform in a roda with each other and
more it interested me because I have a
dance background;' she said.
Two special guests — Mestre Cueca
The highlight of the Michigan Center
from Israel and Mestre Esquilo from North
for Capoeira's anniversary celebration is
Carolina — will present solo performances
its annual batizado (welcome) and troca
Aug. 4, and students will demonstrate
de cordao (exchange of cords) ceremony
at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, at Franklin
For information on the Michigan Center
Athletic Club. No admission will be
for Capoeira and its anniversary celebra-
charged, and seating will begin at 6 p.m.
tion, go to www.
Batizado is the official welcoming for
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18 August 2 • 2012