10 Questions with Paula Verdino-Pimentinha

What brought you to study Capoeira?

I honestly do not remember when I first saw capoeira but I remember always knowing that was something I liked. 
My older brother started doing capoeira at his middle school and I went to see his events and batizados a few times, but never thought I would get in to it. I practice Ballet for 8 years until I felt ready to experience something else and decided to take my first capoeira class in 1993.

Does someone have to also be “musically/rythmically-inclined” to excel in Capoeira? Why or why not?

I think it’s not a requirement, but as you progress and get more involved with the martial art you will feel the need to improve your musical skills or even discover your new talent(s). Music has an amazing importance in the practice of capoeira . Without it you dont “play” , you won’t feel it, you can’t fully understand it.  But that does not mean you need to be an excellent musician to be part of the experience.

Capoeira seems quite demanding (and at higher levels, acrobatic). Does Capoeira have a suggested age range? 
Absolutely not.  Capoeira is an art of all age groups.  I have worked with children 2 years old and younger with great results and also have seen beautiful classes developed specific for seniors.  I believe the trick is how you adapt the methodology to each group.

Not everyone in capoeira will be able to do back flips, hand cart wheels  or acrobatics – even the high level cords.  So you should work with your strengths and go from there.

What is your favorite move/action/ or application of Capoeira (and please explain it, if possible)?

I do not have a favorite move!  I like the game as a whole.  I can say I love the fast games,  played in the rhythm of “Sao Bento Grande,” but love the slow and tricky game of ‘Angola”.  They are all stimulating to me. 

In your opinion, does the system of Capoeira encompass a complete system of self-defense?

Humm…very hard question.  Especially in an era of MMA and BJJ… I think you will get a good sense of self defense if you are a capoeirista.  You will be more aware of your body, should have good reflexes and if you apply the technique correctly you will get good results.

Capoeira is an amazing blend of martial arts, music, acrobatics and dance. As a competitor and athlete/artist, how do you go about creating a “winning performance?”

Well, if by “winning performance” you mean a strong, technical and intelligent capoeira game I would say – training!!
There are no two games exactly the same in capoeira.  Every time you step into the roda ( capoeira circle ) you will play a different game and I love that about capoeira.  There is no choreography, no arrangements…you can not predict what your partner will do and vice-versa, so it is impossible to plan a game which makes even more exciting!
Of course you can train situations and work on moves but again you can never predict a game.

Capoeira had a surge of popularity after the movie, Only The Strong was released. Do you feel that Capoeira is still growing strong? If not, why not?

Yes it is! I see capoeira being taught in places like Angola( Africa) as well as Thailand, New Zealand, Japan and Israel.  Europe, in general, has a growing number of dedicated capoeiristas with a lot of women in the mix as well. When you go to one of these places and see people speaking your language, learning your culture (a lot of times better than us Brazilians!) it only makes me proud to be part of this.  To help expand a beautiful culture.  Capoeira is still growing and it will continue to grow.
You teach Capoeira in New York; explain to our readers a little about where you are located and what you guys offer.

GINGA MUNDO CAPOEIRA NY is located in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long island and we offer classes to adults and children.  I currently work with after school programs in private and public schools and have performed at places like The Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Yale university, Rainbow Room at Rockfeller Plaza, NYU, and Boston college.
What does Paula like to do outside of teaching/performing/training Capoeira?

I love to be outdoors..beach, park ,mountain.. anywhere I can breath fresh air, get sun and be with nature.

Where and/or what do you see yourself doing 5-10 years from now?

Traveling to many more places with capoeira, which always amazes me and inspire me.
Paula Verdino-Pimentinha’s capoeira dvd! Watch the trailer on youtube [here] and visit Amazon.com or WorldDanceNewYork.Com to purchase [click pic to the left].  For more information about Paula and her classes/workshops, please visit her website, http://www.gingamundony.com or by clicking her picture at the top of the article.

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