It is said that capoeira originated in Brazil as far back as the 1600s and that African slaves played an important role in its creation. It's a Brazilian martial art form that combines fight, dance, movement and rhythm. It uses complex moves and can be performed, played as a game or used in self defense situations. Lessons in Doha are in the minority but there are classes taught by Marwan Ghunaim in B/Attitude Doha on Saturdays and Thursdays, 7pm-9pm, and at Sheraton Park on Tuesdays at the same time. They're QR60 per session.
Call 6663 6727.
Speaking with Brazilian dance and fitness instructor Larissa Ferreira from Fitness with Food
Where are you from in Brazil?
I was born in Salvador which is the largest city on the northeast coast of Brazil and the capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Salvador is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich cities in Brazil. It was founded in 1549 so it is a city with a deep history and a great mix of old and new architecture. The city has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, while the nature in Bahia is beautiful and famous for its beaches and the 'Mata Atlântica', a kind of nature comprising a landscape of forests and beaches.
Salvador is also famous for its amazing percussive music, expressive dance, arts and food which are heavily influenced by African culture.
How did you end up in Doha?
I am primarily an artist who loves to travel and experience new cultures and lifestyles having spent time in both Berlin, Germany and Buenos Aires, Argentina. I have travelled a lot to present my art works and dance choreographies in different countries. I’ve always been fascinated with Middle Eastern culture so I took a keen interest in 2014 being the Qatar-Brazil Year of Culture. I therefore jumped at the opportunity to join Fitness with Food, a pioneering fitness company in Doha, to experience the Middle Eastern culture for the first time.
I’ve been here for only four months and already feel at home!
You teach a range of exercise classes here including Brazilian Dance. What does a Brazilian dance class entail?
In these classes I mix different styles of Brazilian dance with a focus on Samba, a symbol of the happy lifestyle in Brazil, which is danced a lot in the Carnival.
Each class is different as I love to mix different styles of Brazilian dance, like Frevo and Forro.
The dances in Brazil are so rich that there are many variations of a particular dance. For example, Samba has the ‘Samba de gafieira’, ‘Samba de Roda’, ‘Samba no pe’ and ‘Samba fundo de quintal’ styles of dancing.
Brazilian dance is all about the use of our body, our energy and our happiness to express the expansive and vibrant culture created by the Brazilian people throughout our history. At the same time it’s about feelings. Brazilian dances are very rich and vary greatly between each region in Brazil.
How easy do your students find it to pick up the techniques?
Dancing is about expressing your feelings and emotions which is reflected in each individual’s unique movement style and technique. Some types of dance are very technical and sometimes people just worry about the techniques and cannot perform with the passion and emotion needed.
In all my classes, I like to emphasise the enjoyment aspects of dance. The technical aspects are important, however, so I like to ensure that the participants are able to execute the moves with a moderate level of effort and movement. Anyway dance is about having fun!
Where do you like to go to get a taste of home in Doha?
Firstly, I feel at home when teaching the Brazilian dance classes, which allow me to express all the culture, rhythms and energy from my country.
Also, I absolutely love the cultural programmes and exhibitions in Katara Cultural Village, which remind me of all the museums and exhibitions in Brazil, as well as the view of the beach!
I’m also a big fan of the Ipanema Brazilian Restaurant at the Renaissance Doha City Center Hotel. The food is really good and I feel at home listening to the amazing Brazuqa band!
I love capoeira – a mix between dance and martial arts from Brazil – and I always take some classes with the 'Cordão de Ouro' Group in B/Attitude Doha. It’s amazing with live percussion and berimbau, a traditional Brazilian instrument.
Finally, the Brazilian beaches are amazing and I take every opportunity to spend time on the beaches here near the Inland Sea!
Larissa teaches Brazilian dance classes at B/Attitude Spa, Beverly Hills Tower, West Bay (www.fitnesswithfood.com).