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Meet the Model: Daniel

daniel.jpgTo say we stumbled upon 21 year old Daniel is an understatement. During our last trip to Brazil (where we designed and ordered most of our swimwear for this season), we were so busy creating the collection that we didn't have time to plan a model search and photo shoot. Then on our last night in Rio, we saw Daniel and his troupe performing in the street. The performance is called capoeira--a 500 year old martial art form that was developed in in Brazil by African slaves. More than martial arts, capoeira is also a form of dance, expression, play and personal interaction developed in the oppressive atmosphere and environment of slavery.

Capoeira is characterized by deceptive kicks, sweeps and rhythmic movements that lie somewhere between dance and fight. The music is a critical component--during faster tempos the players throw fast, powerful kicks and blows at each other (usually without making contact), along with movements reminiscent of the most acrobatic gymnastics. Slower tempos dictate more dance-like interaction with lyrics reflecting the action.

Watching him perform left us mesmerized. The songs, drum beats and movements were almost hypnotic and his physique (which he claims is purely from practicing capoeira) was perfectly lean and cut. After the show, we moved our schedules around for the following day and managed to squeeze in a quick photo shoot with Daniel on the beach highlighting some of his best movements and some of our best suits for the season.

During the shoot, we learned a bit about this amazing performer. Born to a poor family in Caju--a suburb of Rio de Janeiro, Daniel learned capoeira mostly on the streets. Now he spends most of the summer months travelling around the state of Rio de Janeiro performing in the streets for tips--where he says he can usually make around R$25 per day (the equivalent of less than $10) after the troupe splits the day's earnings. Besides the capoeira, Daniel does odd jobs throughout the year to get by and help his family pay the bills (his $100 paycheck from this photoshoot would "go directly to my wonderful mother to help pay the rent"). The motivation for his hard work was evident throughout our time together--Daniel wants a family more than anything--and wants to be able to give his son the financial security he didn't get from his father.

On a lighter note, we also learned that Daniel is a typical 21 year old in many ways. He's always looking for a little fun with the foreigners that visit Rio. He's currently dating an Australian woman who's travelling through Brazil, but claims he has a few other "regulars" on the side. The interview quickly got X-rated as the described his other hobbies and interests. For now (to keep the censors off our backs), we'll just say he's really into role-playing and likes it a little rough between the sheets (our guess is that the aggression of the capoeira is not cathartic enough of an outlet for this sexy 21-year old). You get the picture, right?

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-- Ricardo