Mamadêlê Foundation produces performances, residencies, assemblies, workshops, and educational programs of Afro-Brazilian music, dance, and martial arts. Our culturally relevant performance and arts education programming blend artistry, history, and cultural context for communities throughout greater Philadelphia and the tri-state area, with a focus on serving the underserved Brazilian diaspora and their children. We regularly partner with public schools and cultural organizations to host our programs.
Our master teachers have developed an Afro-Brazilian Residency Program that begins with a performance by our folkloric group Ologundê for the entire school, continues with a series of workshops in Afro-Brazilian percussion, dance, and capoeira for 15-30 students, then culminates with another whole-school assembly performance by Ologundê in which the workshop students perform alongside the professional artists on stage.
Our Ologundê ensemble features the rich Afro-Brazilian culture of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, and has performed throughout the United States, in addition to residence at notable universities and conservatories. Through our public school residency, students are able to engage with up to 15 artists from this ensemble while on the stage. In this way, students get to experience the company’s performances that feature percussion instruments, including the surdos (bass drums), bacurinhas (high-pitched clave drum) agogos (two-toned bells) and tamborims (high-pitched hand-held drums). Students are also able to experience the singing and dancing, with rhythms that include ijexa, samba reggae, samba afro, samba de roda, and tamanquinho in a diverse repertoire that includes rituals associated with Candomblé, a synthesis of the Yoruba worldview with European beliefs; the breathtaking capoeira (martial arts) dance; maculêlê, a warrior dance that utilizes sticks and machetes and was originally created in the sugar cane fields by enslaved people; and the exhilarating samba de roda, which can be traced back to the semba of Angola.
Lessons are conducted in both English and Portuguese, and a detailed curriculum guide is distributed in advance to the participating teachers to prepare their students and teachers for the experience. The curriculum guide includes vocabulary and instrument descriptions, and highlights the intersectionality of these performing arts with beliefs, literature, and the visual arts in Brazil’s history.
We launched this program at Laura H. Carnell Elementary School in 2019, added Abraham Lincoln High School in 2021 (virtually), and expanded to two additional Philadelphia public schools, Castor Gardens Middle School and Farrell School, in 2022.
Our program goals are to:
- Provide holistic arts and cultural programming to the underserved Brazilian community of Philadelphia.
- Where possible and appropriate, guide our audiences in making deeper connections to present-day social justice issues in Afro-Brazilian and African American culture.
- Provide opportunities for more Philadelphia public school students to experience Afro-Brazilian music, dance, and martial arts as an accessible, enjoyable art form.
- Provide opportunities for Brazilian students and their families to celebrate being Brazilian and honor their African heritage.
- Give Brazilian students, many of whom are English Language Learners and children of immigrants or immigrants themselves, a way to connect with other students and have an artistic outlet.