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Brazil's Dance of the Underground
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: ARTS/ENTERTAINMENT; LIFESTYLE; Dance; Conferences
Author: Brace, Eric
Date: May 17, 1997
Start Page: H.01
Section: STYLE

Suddenly Amare kicks. His foot flies toward Oubre's chest. In one fluid movement, Oubre bends his torso back and twists to the side, avoiding Amare's leg blast. With one hand, he taps Amare's foot, as if to say, "Nice try."

Amare smiles, acknowledging Oubre's escape. But he never stops moving. With one leg still in the air, he plants both hands on the floor and unfolds into a graceful handstand, turning it into a back flip as he arcs back toward the floor. Oubre slides feet-first between Amare's just-landed legs, then pulls himself upright, but not before hooking a toe behind Amare's ankle, letting Amare know that he could have dropped him if he'd wanted to.

"When you are in the roda, you're having a conversation with your body, but with no words," explains Mestre Cobra Mansa, one of the world's leading masters of the capoeira form known as capoeira angola, and teacher to Amare and Oubre. Cobra -- or Cobrini, as nearly all his students call him -- has lived in Washington for three years, spreading the capoeira gospel. This weekend, on the campus of George Washington University, Cobra and his group, the International Capoeira Angola Foundation, host the third annual Capoeira Angola Encounter USA.

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