The Roda (Flavor of the Week)

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The Roda

Before the 2006 World Cup, Nike released a couple of DVD’s highlighting and promoting the culture of soccer across the United States and Brazil. On the first DVD they visited Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, Miami and Rio de Janeiro to feature the environment and atmosphere of street soccer in these various locations. On the second DVD the culture of Brazilian football was celebrated as they traveled across the country where the Beautiful Game (Joga Bonitois played with the distinct joyful style of Brazilian soccer. These two DVD’s (Play Your Game & Ginga: The Soul of Brasilian Football) were my gateway into the concepts of Ginga and The Roda.

Ginga is a Portuguese term for describing a ‘back & forth’ motion. It is also the term used for the fundamental motion in the Brazilian fighting style Capoeira. Capoeira is a martial art developed by slaves during the rule of the Portuguese in colonial Brazil. Ginga is the rhythmic motion which resembles dance or dance steps while performing the martial art of Capoeira. The similarity to dance was not coincidental as slaves used it to hide the fact they were actually training in a martial art to fight colonial slaveholders. Because of its constant motion style, capoeira became an effective fighting technique in Brazil and is still a popular martial art that has spread across the world today.

Brazilians interviewed on the DVD’s explain how the concept and soul of ginga permeates every aspect of their culture including and especially, their football (soccer). When Brazilians play the Beautiful Game, it is like a dance to them and this samba like joyful spirit comes out in their play. They dance with a soccer ball in the same way I ‘dance’ with the pen…to use an inanimate object as an expressive tool of art by allowing your soul to bleed through its use.

This concept of ginga resonated with me because in my story, Soul of Suw, the protagonist is able to turn an ordinary pen into a sword called the Artisan. When he wields the sword he is able to dance with the Artisan. In the story, dancing and fighting are interchangeable terms so when two characters are fighting against each other they are also considered to be ‘dance partners’. After understanding the meaning and origins of ginga, I quickly decided to integrate the word and idea into my story. So in Soul of Suw ‘ginga’ became the name of the dancing style used to achieve liberation from the world of darkness. The term ginga literally translates as ‘the dance of liberation’.

The roda is another Portuguese term meaning ‘wheel or circle’. In Brazil, human roda’s are formed to encircle samba dancers or people practicing capoeira. The spectators forming the roda usually clap, sing or play instruments (normally drums) creating a rhythm for those inside the roda to move to. Due to its rhythmic basis, capoeira fighters also use this music to determine the tempo of the fight.

This description of the roda reminded me of cyphers used during rap battles and b-boying. Cyphers are an integral part of Hip Hop culture where a crowd encircles one or two rappers as they attempt to flex their lyrical skills and talents by coming up with clever spur of the moment rhymes. Due to the heavy influence hip hop culture/music had on Soul of Suw I decided to add the concept of the roda to the story. When souls ginga in the story they often have the tendency to produce rhymes so whenever two ‘dance partners’ square off then the battle takes place inside what is now known as the roda.

The illustration, at the top, displays two dancers testing each other’s ginga skills within a roda. They each are dancing with the Artisan sword so the entire affair is like a cultural performance inspired by Hip Hop/Brazilian roots. It is fitting that DVD’s based on the culture of soccer contributed this much to my story because soccer is my favorite sport and I began playing the Beautiful Game at the age of six. The artistry and soul within the game complements the tone and inspiration for Soul of Suw.

If you enjoyed this post you can learn more about the concepts in Soul of Suw including the story, charactersplaces. Inspired by the music of OutKast Soul of Suw is a mythology that revolves around music and is infused with the concepts and artistry of dance and psychology. For more post please sign up to our newsletter or join our facebook page.

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