Mestre Acordeon (Ubirajara Almeida) born in Salvador, Bahia Brazil, is considered a living legend in the Afro-Brazilian martial art known as Capoeira. He is one of the oldest living graduated students from the school of legendary Mestre Bimba (1899-1974), who is actively teaching, training, studying and promoting Capoeira.
A visionary, musician, researcher, author and producer, Mestre Acordeon has played a significant role in the evolution of Capoeira in the last 50 years. Acordeon opened his first school in 1962, created the Grupo Folclórico da Bahia in 1964; taught Capoeira in São Paulo during 1968/69; and inspired an entire generation of capoeiristas, establishing himself as one of the most influential capoeiristas in Brazil.
In the late seventies, with 22 years of active experience, Mestre Acordeon brought Capoeira to the international stage, and is credited as being one of the pioneers to have introduced Capoeira to the United States. Recently he celebrated 35 years of teaching in the San Francisco Bay Area. His organization, the Capoeira Arts Foundation functions as an umbrella for the schools affiliated with the United Capoeira Association, and it is the base for all of the projects related to Mestre Acordeon.
Mestre Acordeon will commemorate his 70th birthday by riding his bicycle on a 14,000-mile journey from Berkeley to the source of his eternal inspiration: his hometown of Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. This epic and historic journey, called Project B2B-Joga Capoeira (Berkeley to Bahia), will start September 1st and take about a year to complete. It will allow Acordeon to immerse himself in local cultures: customs, traditions, values, music and dance. He will study the social significance of Capoeira in these diverse communities. The project will encompass populations in 11 countries (including Brazil) and more than 32 cities. This story will be told by a Capoeira icon who has lived for his art for over half a century.
Material collected during the B2B trip will be documented into four distinct cultural products:
- “Las Americas Cantan la Capoeira”, a collaborative CD of world music, using Capoeira songs recorded during the course of the trip with participation of capoeiristas who are musically creative and open to using their own cultural influences in this work.
- “Flat Tires and One Berimbau”, a documentary film that will fuse historical footage, anecdotes of Mestre Acordeon’s Capoeira practice, and stories of Brazilians and non-Brazilians, as they find solace in the art form regardless of their heritage.
- “B2B Joga Capoeira” a television and/or web series with programs that touch upon Capoeira and its expansion in the Americas. People, culture, music, and language of each region traveled will be highlighted.
- “Lyrics of the Capoeira Path”. Acordeon will use the lyrics of his recorded songs to expound on the path he has taken in capoeira. He will share reflections acquired over 55 years of active participation in his art form.
For those unfamiliar, Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that involves movement, music, and elements of practical philosophy. A Capoeira player experiences the essence of the art in a physical game called “jogo de Capoeira” (game of Capoeira) or simply “jogo.” During this ritualized combat, two capoeiristas (players of Capoeira) exchange movements of attack and defense in a constant flow while observing rituals and proper aesthetics. During the jogo, the capoeiristas explore their strengths and weaknesses, fears and fatigue in a sometimes frustrating, but nevertheless enjoyable, challenging, and constant process of personal expression, self-reflection, and growth.