Q&A with Cristina Dodd - Teacher, Trainer, and Performer of Capoeira
March 08, 20192 min read
In celebration of International Women's Day, we caught up with Cristina Dodd aka “Instructor Miragem,” to discuss her time playing capoeira in NYC for over 20 years, and how a woman's story is not often heard and is almost taboo in the sport. Cristina teaches, trains and performs with the group Capoeira Luanda.
Tell us what started your passion with capoeira.
The first time I saw capoeira I was fascinated. It piqued every one of my interests and I knew I could spend a lifetime learning it and would never get bored. It’s Martial Arts, Dance, Music, Language and Culture. I had never seen such strong men be so graceful and such graceful women be so strong anywhere else like in capoeira. And you add the Brazilian Portuguese language and music to that, it really is uniquely beautiful and there’s no other art quite like it.
What are some of the challenges you've faced in this primarily male dominated sport? First of all, women were not even allowed to play capoeira in the roda (circle) until around the 1970s. So we are walking into a male sport (imagine a woman walking onto a football field). Women must gain the strength, physicality and mentality to play among the men.There is no “women’s division” so we are expected to master difficult movements the same as men and must work very hard to build the kind of strength that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to our bodies. Today at any given event you will still see few women among the higher ranks. I’ve been chipping away at that mountain for 20 years now and having had 2 children in the process. So talk about trying to get your body to perform miracles. We have no examples to refer to. But hopefully we are inspiring those behind us.
What about capoeira has empowered you and the youth that you teach in the community?
The discipline of training any martial art is certainly character building, and when you feel strong it gives you confidence. I love seeing the kids I teach recognizing their own strength for the first time. They try to do something they thought was impossible and find they can actually do it. Now these kids are evolving into young adults who choose fitness as a lifestyle. A lot of my students now, including my own 12 year old son, are so disciplined that they raise the bar for me to continue pushing my own self harder and and we end up giving to each other.