Instructors

Instructor Beija-flor (Keith Wilson)

The Founder and Executive Director of Capoeira St. Louis. Beija-flôr began his informal training of Capoeira in November of 1998 with a small group of individuals that had an interest in the art form of Capoeira. After traveling to various workshops of Capoeira throughout the U.S. and Canada Beija-flôr realized that an authentic instructor was needed to learn this art. In 2000, with the help of Mestre Jelon Vieira, he started the process to bring Contra-Mestre Borracha from Brasil to St. Louis. Beija-flôr trained with Contra-Mestre Borracha from 2000 to 2005. Under the supervision of Mestre Jelon and Contra-Mestre Borracha, Beija-flôr began instructing Capoeira classes at Saint Louis University in 2001. To further the progress of Capoeira in St. Louis, Beija-flôr founded Capoeira St. Louis, a non-profit organization in April of 2001. After Contra-Mestre Borracha moved to Gainesville, FL in 2005 Beija-flôr became one of the full time instructors for Capoeira St. Louis. Beija-flôr has traveled to the following locations to further his knowledge of Capoeira(New York, NY; San Antonio, TX; Houston, TX; Gainesville, FL; Kansas City, MO; Madison, WI; Champaign, IL; Springfield, IL; Bloomington, IN; Vancouver, Canada; New Orleans, LA; Milwaukee, WI.

Graduado Damiao (Joseph Grey)

Introduced to the world of Capoeira in 1998. In 2000, he started training under the supervision of Mestre Jelon; with Professor Borracha as his instructor. Graduado Damiao appreciates the art’s ability to look graceful and agile while simultaneously being an effective martial art. Capoeira has opened doors and opportunities that would not have otherwise been available to him. Graduado Damiao frequently participates in community, educational and cultural events, as well as outreach programs for youth, and tries to share his love of Capoeira with those around him. Graduado Damiao continues to travel to further his knowledge of Capoeira. He has trained Capoeira in Bahia, Brazil; San Antonio, TX; Austin, TX;Gainesville, FL; Kansas City, MO; Champaign, IL; Albuquerque, NM and Vancouver, Canada.

Graduado Cebolinha (Matt Hawkins)

One of the principal instructors in St. Louis. Cebolinha began training with Capoeira St. Louis in 2003 and has been a vital part of the growth of Capoeira St. Louis. Currently he is teaching classes in St. Louis, MO. Cebolinha has traveled intensely to further his knowledge of Capoeira. He has trained in New York, NY; San Antonio, TX; Houston, TX; Gainesville, FL; Champaign, IL; New Orleans, LA; Miami, IL; Phoenix, AZ
Supervised By

Mestre Jelon

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.

Contra-Mestre Borracha

Contra-Mestre Borracha was born in Bahia, Brazil. He began his Capoeira training at the age of thirteen with Mestre Jelon Vieira, renowned Capoeira master and choreographer. Borracha started his performance career with The Capoeiras of Bahia, a dance company for teenagers, directed by Jelon Vieira. With The Capoeiras of Bahia he performed in Brazil and participated in several exchange programs with the Capoeira Foundation Inc. in the United States. While in the US, he performed and participated in several demonstrations at Universities, Colleges and K-12 schools. In 1997 Borracha joined DanceBrazil and toured with the company all over the world as a principal performer until 2002 when he was hired by Capoeira St. Louis as their head Instructor.

Borracha made a special appearance at the Camai Arts Festival in Bethel, Alaska and was featured in The Egg, a program produced and aired by PBS. He also participated in the New Millennium Celebration in Times Square on December 31, 1999, with DanceBrazil. He has also performed for Nike, the Hippodrome (Florida State Theatre) and at many other festivals and performances across the country. Borracha is currently the head Instuctor for Nova Capoeira in Ashburn, VA.