Middlebrook students learn about Brazilian culture through song and dance

Viva Brazil-Ginga Brasileira, a professional ensemble from New Haven, entertained and educated students about Brazilian language and culture during two World Language Assemblies at Middlebrook School on Tuesday, March 28.

World language teacher Simon Bulenzi said the assemblies, sponsored by the Wilton PTA, are the “one of the highlights” of Middlebrook’s World Language Week.

The main objective of the assemblies, said Bulenzi, is to “help students relate to other cultures by making connections and by participating in the celebration of those cultures through music and dance.”

Viva Brazil-Ginga Brasileira  — which performed at the Clune Center eight days earlier as part of Wilton High School’s annual Arts Festival — demonstrated a repertoire of Afro-Brazilian dances at Middlebrook, including:

  • Capoeira, a martial arts dance featuring fast footwork, daring leaps and split-second timing that was developed by 16th-Century slaves in Brazil.

  • Maculelê, a stick dance created by African slaves working on Brazilian sugarcane plantations;

  • Samba, Brazil’s lively and rhythmical national dance.


In addition to being quizzed on Brazilian geography and the Portuguese language, a select group of students also got to participate in a dance activity, where they had to mimic Maculelê dance moves performed by one of the entertainers.

In 2009, Bulenzi took on the task of organizing the school’s annual World Language Assemblies, which feature different performers each year.

Guests in past years have included New Haven salsa ensemble Mikata, Latin American performance group Surcari from Arts for Learning, and Chinese dance ensemble Dance China.

Video clips from one of this year's assemblies are available here.