The Bloco Malagasy is a batucada group (Afro-Brazilian percussion), which has 200 girls and children who study at the Art and Music Centre. The students are from the most impoverished parts of Toliara, Madagascar.

 

The project was founded in 2008 where volunteers from the NGO “Bel Avenir” (strong future) taught french lessons to a group of students.

The project was initially set up by girls living close to the Tropic Cinema in the Tsimenatse neighbourhood. The following year, with its popularity, children from other neighbourhoods became interested and also took part.

The group was created to provide alternative leisure for girls with high risk of social exclusion and teenage pregnancy.

The word “bloco” in Portuguese spoken in Brasil means “association” or “group”. The blocos are bands that play music and entertain in the streets during the traditional carnival.

The Bloco Malagasy plays at parades, carnivals and shows. The group is also accompanied on stage by choreographers and acrobats from the capoeira Roda Malagasy group. This spectacle of these girls from Toliara are also accompanied by lots of majorettes.

The Bloco Malagasy integrates rhythms from Brasil, Europe and Madagascar, creating a unique and artistic experience of international quality.

In 2001, the Bloco made its first abroad tour to Spain. In 2013, there was an increase in the amount of social benefits at a local level as the Bloco Malagasy toured in Cambodia in March and Madagascar in August and October. In 2014, the girls completed their second tour in Asia and spent time in Thailand and Cambodia to promote human rights. In July, the girls took part in street performances during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. In April, the percussionists returned to South Africa for a tour in Cape Town which promoted responsible tourism in the tourism hall at the World Travel Market Africa 2015.

In September, the girls did a national tour to raise awareness for human rights with the animated film “ Tongasoa and the vazaha” which was created by the sponsor of Bel Avenir.

All of the tours aimed to raise awareness to the public abroad like Malagasy with regard to human rights, especially rights for women and children. These tours have also created an opportunity to encourage exchanges between children from different cultures and social backgrounds which in turn promotes tolerance, respect and peace.

In fact, the tour in Madagascar has helped the group to make a contribution to the arts scene in Malagasy thanks to their unique performance and significant media attention that the girls have attracted.

The Bloco Malagasy currently consists of four levels: Bloco A, B and C where the levels of girls are ranked by the most advanced to beginners. The lower Bloco level was created in November in 2014 and welcomes children from 6-12 years and also has boys who play percussion.

 

     

Timeline

2008: A group of beneficiary girls from Agua de Coco in Toliara (Madagascar) discovered the batucada and learned to play instruments and started to play Malagasy rhythms.

2009: The group started to play in neighbourhoods and in restaurants in the town.

2010: The group were trained by a Spanish teacher Borja Rocha, a member of the Samba group who created the name Bloco Malagasy.

2011: The Bloco Malagasy did their first international tour for a month in Spain to promote rights for children.

2012: The percussionists experienced a large progression in their level thanks to their percussion teacher Nacho Martin from the Samba group.

2013: The Bloco Malagasy went to Cambodia in March for their new tour that was largely support from the south-south exchange, above all for women. That same year, the group did their first national tour in August in Madagascar. In October and December, the Bloco Malagasy had two groups that toured to raise awareness for the participation of presidential elections in south-west regions, Ihorombe as well as Menabe and Melaky.

2014: In February, the percussionists toured for five months in Cambodia and Thailand to promote human rights. In July, the Bloco Malagasy left for their second tour in Brasil which focused on “fighting to share roots, sounds and visions”. In Brasil, the girls in the Bloco Malagasy had the opportunity to take part in shows during the FIFA World Cup Brazil.

2015: The Bloco Malagasy went to South Africa in April for a tour that promoted responsible tourism. The girls took part in shows in the tourism hall in the World Travel Market Africa 2015, Cape Town.

In September, the percussionists did a national tour with an animated film “Tongasoa et le vazaha” to raise awareness on similar issues.