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Brazilian Carnival Day - 17 June 2012

On Sunday 17th June, the National Centre for Early Music teamed up with two virtuosic Brazilian artists, percussionist and dancer Claudio Kron and Capoeira Master Valdir Da Silva, to bring the excitement of the Brazilian Carnival to York. Heralding the South American theme of the 2012 York Early Music Festival and celebrating with the University of York's Festival of Ideas, the Brazilian Carnival Day introduced young people from across Yorkshire to traditional South American arts in a hands-on way.

The seventeen young people, all aged between 7 and 14, were first treated to a performance from the York St. John University Samba Band, a newly formed group led by lecturer Chris Bartram. The ensemble introduced the young people to three different samba rhythms before inviting Claudio to join them in an improvisation. With that music still ringing in their ears, the young people were then invited up to learn some traditional Brazilian dance moves. They were joined by York St John performer Natalie King and University of York Community Music MA student Ellie Haines, who supported the participants' learning, as well as discovering some new moves of their own!

Once everyone had warmed up through the dance session, it was time to explore the intriguing world of Capoeira, a Brazilian dance-based martial art, which was developed by slaves and practised in secret right up until the last century, when the artform was finally no longer considered illegal. After a lively and energetic demonstration from Claudio and Valdir, as well as some discussion on the origins and purpose of the artform, the participants were shown some basic moves and eventually developed some partner work and more complex, demanding sequences.

After lunch, the focus moved back to samba, this time with a chance for our young participants to make the music themselves. The group learnt one traditional samba piece, gradually building up from one rhythm to the polyrhythmic groove of a full samba band. Everyone had a chance to swap around and play different instruments within the ensemble, helping players to better understand the overall piece, rather than one isolated rhythm within the music. Once this was perfected, it was time to share the fruits of our day with an eager audience of family and friends, who were invited to an informal demonstration of the group's work. The young participants first showed their dance performance, then wowed the audience with their daring capoeira moves and finished up by getting all the feet in the room tapping to their samba rhythms.

Young people and parents alike were extremely positive about their experience, with many young people getting the opportunity to learn about arts and cultures that they had never before experienced. Here are some quotes from those who took part:
- "I really enjoyed it... it was a great experience. Thank you!"
- "So much fun! The guys
leading were incredible!"
- "I really liked the dancing because I haven't done anything like that before"
- "This makes me want to learn more samba!"
- "I liked the Capoeira best because I liked learning the acrobatics!"
- "The best thing was hearing everyone play together as a group"
- "Everything was so good!"

This event was part of the York Festival of Ideas which took place from 14 to 30 June 2012. For more info visit