In the state of all saints, in Bahia, the city of Santo Amaro de Purificacao is marked by the colors of carnivals. It is very abundant in the popular cultural manifestations that were born in Africa, and which now enrich Brazilian culture. It is the nucleus of Capoeira history and it was greatly marked by the birth of Maculelê in 1890.
Maculelê is a dance of strong body expression, where people dance in a group and beat the sticks to the rhythm of Atabaques drums and the vibration of songs. Maculele was played at religious celebrations such as the one honoring the town’s patron saint, Nossa Senhora da Purificacao, on February 2nd. Among all of the festive acts in Santo Amaro, Maculelê was always the most contagious to those who celebrated because of its beautiful colors and soulful rhythm.
Maculelê origins are somewhat obscure. One story says that the dance was created by slaves in the cane fields, who used the cane to play Maculelê. Some say that Maculelê was a celebration of the harvest; others argue that it had religious significance, and still others say that that it was a dance of black people as an exercise in self defense from their masters. Most probably, like the martial art of Capoeira, the Maculele was a martial art disguised as a festive dance.
Nowadays, Maculelê has been integrated in folkloric activities done in Brazil. It is often performed during Capoeira presentations, and in folkloric groups within schools and universities.