“Batuqueiro, batuqueiro, no baque luanda ou no baque nagô”
“Saudando todos os mestres o Caracaxá chegou”
“A Caracaxá”, according to Elisabet Gonçalves Moreira (member of the Comissão Pernambucana de Folclore/Pernambuco’s Folclore Comission), is a sort of native instrument that has the sound similar of a maraca. It’s an instrument used by several groups that uses the Brazilian popular music characteristics. In the context that we’re presenting – “the Caracaxá” – has another meaning.
“The Caracaxá” borrows its name to a group formed since the year of 2003 and has been writing its story ever since. The history of a group is directly reflected by its memory, and therefore we have written this brief historic of Caracaxá based in the testimonials from the two of the principal members: Henrique Barros – part of the “Nação” de Maracatu de Baque Virado called Porto Rico – and Chico Rojo – of the “Nação” de Maracatu de Baque Virado Estrela Brilhante de Recife.
Bruno Prado, one of the founding members of the group was invited by Gilberto Dimenstein (a journalist) in the end of 2003 to compose a team for a presentation of Maracatu de Baque Virado in a place called “beco do Aprendiz”. By the time, a group of twelve people (Bruno Prado, Chico Rojo, Henrique Caldeira, Gustavo Silviano, André Albuquerque, Ed Carlos da Silva, Gustavo de Souza, Santhiago Villela, Fernanda Alves, Letícia Doretto, Beatriz Evrard, Gustavo Cecci) was assembled to perform the presentation.
The success of the opportunity has led the group to be invited to a new presentation in the following week.
The result was that the people of this “team” decided together to assemble a group that would work exclusively with the language of Maracatu de Baque Virado. Until the beginning of 2004, several meetings happened in the houses of the members, where several aspects relevant to a group undertook lengthy discussions. In example, ideal of activity, the group’s colors the name of the group among others.
The starting ideal, shared between a large portion of its members, was to form a Companhia (Company/Cia). Initially it would be a Cia. of Arts that would be called Sábia Laranjeira. Later it was decided that the name of the group would be Cia. Caracaxá.
The idea of the Cia was in conformity with an ideal that the group’s work wouldn’t be only musical, but also in an open and organic method. We could suggest an analogy with the idea of a community of Maracatus in Recife (PE).
In the Recife’s Maracatus, there is no distinction between those who plays the instruments and the one responsible for the costumes development among other functions.
The Cia has this principle, everybody taking part in a whole. The organization of a Maracatu has strong differences against what the idea of the word organization suggests, for example of a company where the positions are defined in an hierarchic way only. But it’s important to point that the activities performed by the group aren’t exactly the same than those performed by the Nações.
Once this moment was finished, the group started to strengthen itself in the São Paulo musical scene and being recognized even in other Brazilian cities. The chosen colours were white and green and all the group’s instruments was painted with these colors. It is unknown of why these colors were chosen, but they started to strongly characterize the group, being its trademark.
Several presentations were performed in events, and even in communities of São Paulo. The proposal of the Cia’s work is shared between these two moments: presentations that guarantee the continuity of the work (as in funding the group) and those that poses a strong social valor. The Cia Caracaxá has as one of its foundations points the constant dialog with the communities of São Paulo.
The group started to have problems due to personal issues and availability of its own members that, at the moment, weren’t able to fully dedicate to the work. Looking for solutions, the first proposal was to have the rehearsals once every two weeks.
Later more people were invited to join the group (Robson Pereira Teixeira, Luiza Gaia, Estevão, Lelo, Carol, Jordana). The Cia Caracaxá was then able to keep up its development, but found some resistance due to the reduced number of its members.
In the year of 2006 some of the members that had a more passionate interest of the continuity of the work began doing open rehearsals in the Cidade Universitária (in Universidade de São Paulo). It was a method that was accepted by every one of the group, since this method wouldn’t exclude anybody, and at the same time, the group wouldn’t disappear.
The integrants of the Cia were able to call outsiders to take part into the rehearsals. The Cia Caracaxá would keep being a close group, but their rehearsals were open to the rest of the society.
The Praça do Relógio (USP) became the stage for the group rehearsals and anybody could take part. Thereby, the group assumed a profile of transmission for knowledge of the culture of Maracatu de Baque Virado.
In the beginning of 2007, a debate between the members of the group decided that the Cia Caracaxá would be an open group and it would have its work proposal directly mirrored in the work developed by the “Nações” of Maracatu de Baque Virado from Recife (PE).
The proposal would be to not exclude anybody, and have as its principal purposes to blend people and bring good things to the aforementioned. In order for that to happen, the members of the Caracaxá would have to be necessarily compromised with the group in an interest for the activities to be performed collectively and independent of an individual effort of some of the members. Everybody that was dedicating its time for the open rehearsals would be thereby considered members of the Cia.
The Cia. Caracaxá tries to reproduce the music as it is performed by the maracatus from Recife. Each “Nação” of Maracatu has its own particularities for the musical execution, for example in an utilization of one or more instruments and each way to play each one of the instruments.
The concept brought by the Caracaxá is to attempt to reproduce these characteristics the most accurate way possible so the Maracatu isn’t represented outside Recife being one way only, excluding the variety presented by the “Nações” in Recife.
With this purpose the group has already performed, since its birth, several workshops with masters from the Nações from Recife, with the purpose of having a broader contact with the language of each one of these Nações.
Among these, we could mention: Mestre Shacon Vianna from Nação de Maracatu de Baque Virado Porto Rico, Mestre Walter from Nação de Maracatu de Baque Virado Estrela Brilhante de Recife, foreman Pitoco from Nação Estrela Brilhante de Recife, Maurício Soares Baiana Rica from Nação Estrela Brilante do Recife – Dança, Mestre Afonso from Nação de Maracatu de Baque Virado Leão Coroado, Mestre Gilmar from Nação de Maracatu Estrela Brilhante de Igarassu, Mestra Joana from Nação de Maracatu Encanto do Pina and Mestre Toinho from Nação Encanto da Alegria.
Nowadays the group performs its rehearsals every Thursdays from 20:00 to 22:00 in a space given in partnership with the CEPE-USP, Prefeitura do Campus and Universidade de São Paulo, in the ray from the Cidade Universitária.
Nação/Nações: Large groups formed by communities inside Recife, a city in the state of Pernambuco that work with the language of Maracatu de Baque Virado and has a full characteristic in the carnival, with the standard, the costumes and the characters typically present in the carnival. Nowadays it is known of about 30 nações.
Nação do Maracatu Porto Rico: A Nação founded in 1914 and has its headquarters in the neighborhood of Pina, in Recife, PE.
Nação do Maracatu Estrela Brilhante de Recife: Nação founded in 1910 and has its headquarters in the neighborhood of Alto do José do Pinho, in Recife.
Praça do Relógio: Clock’s Square, in English. It is a square located inside the University of São Paulo (USP) where the first rehearsals of Caracaxá took place, before moving to the olympic ray.
Universidade de São Paulo (USP): Largest brazilian university, hosting the biggest scientific and cultural literary collection.
Tradução realizada por: Mario Antonelli Gaiarsa – Integrante da Companhia Caracaxá!