I first saw Capoeira when I was in college in1994. It was a touring group that Mestre Jelon Viera created called Dance Brazil that came to perform at my college. I remember thinking that the dancing was ok, but every so often the performers would move with this particularly spiral like, fluid strength that completely captivated me. I knew I wanted to learn how to move like that.
My first class of Capoeira was with Joao Grande in NYC. I had shown up with off white pants and a t-shirt. Good thing I came early to the class because he made me go out onto 14th st, to buy white pants so that I could train. Even though I loved the class I was a bit intimidated by the seriousness of this form. It wasn’t until 1997 that I really began to train Capoeira. I was in Boulder Colorado studying at the Rolf Institute and Dancing. I met Professor Galo at a dance event that I frequented. He kept inviting me to train, and finally I did. My first teachers were Professor Galo and Instructor Govinda (UCA). This was the beginning of a journey that would lead me to the Bay Area where I began my training with Mestre Acordeon, Mestre Ra and Mestra Suelly (she was a Professora at the time). Their styles and backgrounds in Capoeira are all unique, and yet they worked together to show me a glimps of how intricate and complex the tapestry of Capoeira truly is. I have met all of my closest friends, and made a family through Capoeira.
In 2005 I had my Formatura at the Capoeira Arts Cafe in downtown Berkeley (at the time I was 5 months pregnant with my second child). I then earned the title Contra Mestra Marreta in 2013, and continue to teaching Capoeira at the Casa de Cultura and other Capoeira schools and events around the country.
The model of Capoeira is often all or nothing. As a mother, this model is not available to me. I have had limited time available to teach, and to train. It has been challenging, and important to find a place in Capoeira with the real time limitations that I accept and that I have. I believe it is important to bring who we are into what we do, and to be proud of it. I think there is room for mothers, and female leadership within Capoeira and I believe, that our committed involvement will move and shape the artform in a way that we can be proud of.
My focus within Capoeira is more on the expressive and interactive side, rather than the martial side. Recently, I find myself particularly interested in how to guide students and teachers towards a greater physical and anatomical understanding. I would like to see a greater sense of responsibility held by the teachers and students of Capoeira. A responsibility for knowing and understanding the impact the training exercises have on the body when repeated over many years. Likewise there is a kind of self-responsibility that all of us as Capoeiristas, and any mover has to understand and be curious about (to the best of our ability) how our bodies are designed and what our supposed and real limitations are. I believe that Capoeira is an art form not unlike other folk movement forms that contains within it an incredible amount of wisdom and physical intelligence. I am interested in learning from this, without overtraining or falling foolishly into the trap of unsustainable masochism that seems to be so prevalent within the world of Capoeira. I am interested in how women in leadership roles will help to inform and grow the culture of capoeira. I am greatful to all of my teachers in Capoeira: Mestre Acordeon, Mestre Ra, Mestra Suelli, Mestre Calango, Mestre Amunka, Mestre Galo, Mestre Amen, Mestre Lobao, Mestre Gato, Mestre Mago, Mestre Effraim, Mestre Marrom, Mestre Nestor Capoeira, Mestre Itapoan Beiramar, Contra Mestre Dondi, and on and on and on and all who have come before me to make it possible for me to get to know this art form.