Anyone who has ever been to local Carnaval and Brazilian Day celebrations knows the Brazilian community in Phoenix is colorful, flashy, joyful, alive and kicking.
And that vibrancy will only ramp up as the FIFA World Cup tournament envelops soccer-crazed Brazil, which for the first time in 64 years is hosting the month-long party that is the world championship of soccer. Brazilians are known for their warmth and passion and the importance they place on family. The tight-knit expatriate community in metro Phoenix is estimated at 3, to 3, people, which is small compared with other big U. Brazilians will always have 'saudade' of Brazil, even when they are happy elsewhere.
Wherever they live, Brazilians take their culture with them. In metro Phoenix, students at three academies practice the ancient art of capoeira, a mix of dance and martial arts that has its roots in slavery.
Dancers learn sultry samba at many studios across the Valley, including an organization in Phoenix called Samba Performers. Portuguese is taught in schools and universities.
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Brazilian music, dance and cuisine — not to mention caipirinha, the rum libation that is the national drink of Brazil — attract thousands of revelers to annual Carnival and Brazilian Day bashes. Much of the credit for bringing the local Brazilian community together goes to Josefa Oelfke, 84, of Scottsdale, whom many consider the "Mother of Brazilians" in the Valley.
She moved to Arizona from her native Brazil in Her husband, Charles, was the honorary consul of Brazil in Arizona, and they established the now-defunct Brazilian Institute of Arizona. Oelfke now helps plan events with Casa Brazil and tries to help Brazilians in the Valley as much as possible.
So I went to meet everybody, and now they are my 'kids. Miguel Ivery of Gilbert is another driver of local Brazilian culture. He isn't Brazilian but fell in love with the culture when he first heard its music; so much so that he started a Brazilian record label called Afro:Baile seven years ago.
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Ivery promotes a range of Latin American music and organizes the popular Carnaval and Brazilian Day festivals every year. ASU plans to host World Cup watch parties, and Casa Brazil is keeping expats up to date on watch parties, whether they're at neighborhood restaurants and bars or in private homes.
Saudade is why Erika Fernandes, 27, of Scottsdale, began taking classes at Axe Capoeira, the Valley's oldest capoeira academy, in Fernandes, who now holds a brown cord in capoeria, was familiar with the martial art while in Brazil. She had seen performances in the past, and knew a little about the history. Capoeira, which utilizes dance, acrobatics and music, was developed by African descendents enslaved in Brazil starting in the The self-defense and fighting techniques were disguised with dance to avoid punishment from slaveholders. I ended up embracing it and loving it.
Scottsdale resident Glenn Stern, 51, grew up in Chicago, and as a jazz musician playing bass guitar, became fascinated by Brazilian music, bossa nova in particular. While in college, he applied for a scholarship in Brazil and lived in Rio de Janeiro for a year. He met his future wife in Brazil and moved to Arizona to get his master's masters degree at Thunderbird School of Global Management.
He leveraged his degree to move back to Brazil, traveling throughout South America for five years, learning Portuguese and soaking up the culture. After returning to Arizona, he and his wife immediately sought out the Brazilian community, meeting a lot of friends at events organized by Casa Brazil. Through the community, he met many Brazilian musicians, and formed several bands.
His current group is the Tera Crisalida Trio. Here in the U. But there's a lot more to Brazilian music than that. She was delighted to see the excitement there.
As the World Cup gets into gear, Brazilians in Phoenix hope Americans really get a taste for the culture and take the time to learn something about their vast and diverse country through the intensive media coverage. Even banks shut down three hours before matches to allow their workers time to prepare for the game.
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Brazilian community in Phoenix big on celebrations. Kellie Hwang The Republic azcentral.
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