Best Capoeira Center: Get your kicks ... on Avenue 23
Baka Cultural Arts Center
Baka Cultural Arts Center 1244 23rd Ave., Oakland, 510-684-4300
If there's one thing that Berkeley doesn't suffer from, it's a dearth of juicy looking, aerial twisting, head-wrap-wearing capoeira dancers -- you don't even have to go as far as Ashby Flea Market to find them anymore. Given the availability of classes at Capoeira Arts Cafe, Capoeira Mandinga, and more generally known places like the YWCA, it's not surprising that so many people have glommed onto Afro-Brazil's gorgeous traditional martial arts ballet. Yet the trend has been slower to hit East Oakland. Professor Aniefre Tartaruga, the spearhead of Baka Cultural Arts Center, seeks to rectify this by offering affordable capoeira, hip-hop, samba, and African dance classes for youth starting at $40 a month, though Baka offers scholarships based on need. Along with basic training in capoeira techniques, history, music, maculele, and samba de roda, the center also provides after school tutoring and leadership classes. Considering the center's orientation toward building community, it's apt that "baka" is an ancient African word for "enlightenment."