‘Little Brazil’ can be found at center in heart of Kyiv
Alina Kabakova, a tall, curly-haired, mixed-race woman, is a native of Kyiv, but she has a hard time convincing others.
“Even Brazilians think I am from their country. But I have no Brazilian blood in me,” Kabakova said.
Another reason for the confusion is her workplace: The gymnasium of the Casa do Brazil academy, which teaches Brazilian culture, music and fighting techniques.
Kabakova is an experienced instructor of capoeira, the Brazilian martial art, which looks more like a hypnotic dance than a fight. The woman fell in love with Brazil 10 years ago and, last year, started the first academy of the capoeira in Ukraine. She named it “Casa do Brazil” (Brazilian House). Since then, it has become a casa for more than 100 Ukrainians who are studying the martial art.
“Every year our students fight for another cord and grade. It is like a level belt in karate,” Kabakova says. “Its called patisada if a student gets his first cord, and trohachicorda is a ceremony of changing cords. The mestre (master) from Brazil usually comes to judge such ceremonies,” explained Kabakova. Alina Kabakova (middle) plays music with her students during capoeira training in Casa do Brazil academy in Kyiv on Sept 22. (Volodymyr Petrov)
The big hall, which is located in the old building of Mala Opera on Dehtyarivska Street in Kyiv, is covered with Brazilian and Ukrainian flags.
To the rhythms of Brazilian drums, Kabakovas students train.
“There are different people among my students - kids from three to 14 and adults of various professions. For example, Ira is from the new patrol police of Kyiv, Serhiy is a driving instructor, Andriy is a merchandiser and Dyma has his own firm,” said Kabakova.
There are from four to six training sessions daily. Two professional instructors, except Kabakova, work with students in the academy on Dehtyarivska and in its affiliation for kids only in Troeschyna neighborhood of Kyiv.
“I was giving capoeira lessons for five years, but deep in my soul I always knew that to study the Brazilian philosophy of fight properly, I need a special place where anyone could play the percussion, dance Brazilian dances – forro, samba – study Portuguese, watch Brazilian movies and, of course, capoeira,” Kabakova said.
In “Casa do Brazil,” the students learn not only how to fight as Brazilians, but also Brazilian dance and music. Portuguese lessons are also given. All services come at the monthly price of Hr 400 for children and Hr 500 for adults.