Syria
#BarakabilityThe ArtsTheater & Dance

Dancing Kids Towards Wholeness

In a city shaken by war, the music and moves of capoeira are giving boys and girls a structure they can once again feel at home in–and pour joy into.

Bidna Capoeira, a grassroots initiative to bring the dance-like Brazilian martial art to the masses, is helping local and displaced children in Raqqa hone their play skills. One game that captivated kids involved listening to how their own voices changed when they smiled. And more and more children–at least half of them girls–are smiling as they learn to perform capoeira’s low, acrobatic moves.

The music that accompanies them also seems to dispel the mental “scatteredness” that their trainer, a refugee named Pulo de Gato, or “jump of a cat”, noticed in many of the children: a probably consequence of having lived through severe physical and emotional dislocation. But now, thanks to Gato’s dedication, instead of sitting through dread, his students are counting the hours until they can gather to sing and dance again.

For more info – Bidna Capoeira’s website

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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