Best martial arts dance classes (2008)

Omulu Guanabara Capoeira

If you've ever been in a dilemma about whether to take a defense course or dance instruction, you don't have to decide anymore if you've signed up at Omulu Guanabara Capoeira. Group leader Nadine Mundo learned the craft at the capoeira school's original San Fran outpost (which started in the mid '80s). Since moving to New York four years ago, she's started her own school and has taught hundreds of students. A typical class starts with cardio exercises and warm-ups, then breaks up into different skill groups to practice kicks, defense movements, sweeps, and cartwheels. For the last half-hour, the class reassembles into a circle (roda) to engage in clapping and singing while a few students in the middle play the berimbau (stringed instrument), pandeiro (tambourine) and atabaque (drum), which are taught to the class in special workshops. The group often performs in parks, loft parties, DJ parties, parades, and even weddings. For all the fun, Mundo insists that there's still a serious purpose in all this: "We like people to learn about a strong work ethic, self-discipline, and sense of community, working together."


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