(pronounced ma-kú-lay-lay) "the
dance of the sticks"
The exact origins of the dance called Maculele are not certain, however
there are many stories and legends surrounding its history. It is agreed
that Maculele was created by enslaved Africans working on the sugar cane
plantations. The sticks used in the dance resemble stalks of sugar cane,
and the "Facao" or machete often used in the dance is the tool used to
cut sugar cane.
Some stories talk about Maculele being a dance done by enslaved Africans
on the senzala, their living quarters on the large plantations. It may
have been to celebrate harvest time, or as a way to practice defending
themselves. Possibly, like the martial dance capoeira, this dance was a
martial art form disguised as a celebration dance. Escaped slaves would
use the movements to battle the "captains" who would hunt them, using sticks
straight out of the fire that were still burning.
Other stories say it is related to a battle between tribes in Africa.
One such story is that of a village whose people went to hunt and left
a single boy to protect the children and women. A neighboring tribe attacked
the village, and the boy picked up two sticks on the ground and ran around
with so much energy and bravery that he chased away all the attackers.
When the hunters returned he became a big hero and they created the dance
of Maculele in honor of his bravery and spirit.
Maculele is similar to some dances of the indigenous people of Brazil.
There may have been some mixing of African and indigenous cultures to create
the movements of maculele, however the music and songs are mostly African,
(sung in Yoruba) and Portuguese.
Maculele is most closely tied to the city Santo Amaro in the interior
of the Brazilian state of Bahia. There is a story about Mestre Po-Po in
Santo Amaro that says he began to use movements of the dance in the streets,
clapping hands with a friend in order to get the attention of young women
that were passing by. In the early 1900's, Mestre Po-Po revived and refined
the dance of Maculele, and, by his act of forming a folkloric dance company,
this dance form became known throughout Brazil and beyond. Maculele is
performed by folkloric dancers in Bahia, and also has become a dance that
Capoeira schools throughout Brazil practice because of its similar roots
to those of Capoeira.
Aguas da Bahia, a dance
company led by Tania Santiago, performed Maculele in People Like Me 2003.