THE LEGEND OF MACULELÊ
Its origin is much disputed, as some think it is an indigenous dance and others a struggle of blacks. It is believed to be a popular act that would have flourished in the 18th century in the sugarcane fields of Santo Amaro, and became part of local celebrations.
In Santo Amaro da Purificação, a city marked by the green of the cane fields, it is a land rich in popular cultural manifestations and the birthplace of Maculelê that emerged through its dance of strong dramatic expression, only by male people, dedicated to participating in group dance, beating the sticks to the rhythm of the sound with songs in popular language.
Every February 2nd, the day of Nossa Senhora da Purificação, the patron saint of the city, is celebrated. And within all the parties there is Maculelê, contagious for its vibrant rhythm.
Maculelê is a mixture of dance and fight originating from slaves. “Since the (20th) century, with the death of the great masters of Maculelê de Santo Amaro da Purificação, the merrymaking has ceased to be part of the patron saint’s festivities for many years”. In the 1940s, a new master appeared, Paulino Aluísio de Andrade, known as Popó do Maculelê, esteemed by many as the protector of Maculelê. Mestre Popó gathered relatives and friends, to whom he taught the dance, based on his memories, wanting to include it again in the local religious festivals. He formed a group, from Maculelê de Santo Amaro, which became very well known.
The oldest fighter is Mestre Popó and according to him, the Maculelê arrived from the African coast along with the slaves, to the Santo Amaro mills.
A mixture of fight and dance, defense and attack mixing with the black corners to disguise the fight. In this way, the fight was trained without arousing the distrust of the overseers who only saw the dance.
At Maculelê we use the following instruments: atabaques, agogô and ganzá. Each fighter uses a pair of sticks.
The dance is composed of light movements and a lifting of the feet synchronized to the beats of the sticks.
Only a few songs sung in the slave quarters were used to accompany Maculelê. Most were created in Santo Amaro by followers of Mestre Popó, but the one that characterizes the most is “it’s me, it’s me, it’s me Maculelê, it’s me”…