Mestre Jelon Vieira is the founder and Artistic Director of Capoeira Foundation and founder of Capoeira Luanda. He has earned much acclaim as a broadly talented choreographer and as a world renowned master and teacher of Capoeira. Born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, Brazil, in 1953. Started training Capoeira Angola at the age of 10 years old with Mestre Emerito and later on continuing with Mestre Bobô. In 1969 he met Mestre Eziquiel with who he studied Capoeira Regional and had the honor to enjoy classes at Mestre Bimba’s academy.
Since his arrival in the US in 1975, Mr. Vieira has catalyzed the growing interest in and understanding of Brazilian culture while simultaneously developing his own choreographic style that blends tradition Afro-Brazilian dance and North American modern dance. In 1976 he formed the Capoeiras of Bahia with Loremil Machado. Then, in 1977, Mr. Vieira founded DanceBrazil, and for the last 20 years has guided the company through breathtaking performances of capoeira and Afro-Brazilian dance.
Mr. Vieira teaches capoeira to people of all ages and from all walks of life in both Brazil and the United States. He has taught the soccer great Pele and American movie stars Wesley Snipes and Eddie Murphy. And worked in movies with Brooke Shields, Timothy Dalton, and the directors Robert Wise and Robert Miller. Although he resides in New York, Mr. Vieira spends several months a year in Brazil. One of his long term goals is to open a center for underprivileged children, using capoeira to build self esteem and self-discipline and to begin moving these children off the streets and into the educational system and mainstream society. Mr. Vieira and Loremil Machado are the pioneer of Capoeira in the United States.
Mr. Vieira has taught in many residency workshops and has been a guest instructor at Yale University’s African-American Studies Department for 12 years with Dr. Robert Ferris Thompson. He has also taught at many other universities and colleges including University of Pennsylvania, Denison University, Oberlin College, Columbia University, New York University, Stanford University, Duke University, University of Nebraska, University of Miami among others. In 2000, he was a guest as Eminent Scholar at Florida University, in Gainesville, FL for a semester. Most recently, in September 2008, Mestre Jelon was awarded one of eleven National Heritage Fellowships, the country’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.