ITABORÁ FERREIRAItaborá Ferreira has been practicing capoeira since 1974, with teaching experience totaling over 20 years. He started his capoeira and folklore education in Rio de Janeiro under the direction and guidance of Mestre Camisa (the head Master of ABADÁ CAPOEIRA, a leading capoeira organization that sets the standard for most capoeira training and development conducted throughout the world). Mestre Itaborá also studied at the National School of Folklore, in Rio, from 1973 to 1976. He received his graduation from Mestre Camisa in 1996 at Circo Voador in Rio. In 1990, he spent several months in the city of Salvador, Bahia, learning Capoeira Angola from Grand Master João Grande.
In the United States, Itaborá Ferreira has taught capoeira and drumming classes at Yale University, UCLA, UCSC, UC Riverside, Stanford University, and more recently at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz, California. He has also participated in many community art projects from New York City to Oakland, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz.
On the stage, highlights of his career include his participation in the acclaimed performing company DANCE BRAZIL, directed by United States capoeira pioneer MESTRE JELON VIEIRA, in the tours and productions of the American Theater Festival, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Spoleto Festival and a four-year engagement in the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival with the dance company, Brazil Dance Review, directed by the Bay Area’s great capoeira master, Marcelo Caveirinha from Mandinga Capoeira.
While working with Mestre Barrão, from Axé Capoeira, Mestre Itaborá has taught seminars worldwide, including such places as: Toronto & Victoria, CANADA; Virgin Islands, USA; Guadalajara & Puebla, MEXICO; Prague, CZECH REPUBLIC; Moscow, RUSSIA; Kiev, UKRAINE; Wroclaw, POLAND; Ankara, TURKEY; Hamburg, GERMANY; and Bandung, INDONESIA. He is the technical director of the United States Capoeira Federation and the organizer of the US OPEN CAPOEIRA TOURNAMENT.
Mestre Itaborá is also a 2-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion (Rio de Janeiro, 2004-2005) and a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Pan American Champion (Los Angeles 2005). He holds 2 personal training certifications (NASM & NCSF) and currently works at Gold’s Gym of San Mateo as a personal trainer, and instructor of Capoeira and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Itaborá has inspired many people through his teachings (see “testimonials”) and he believes that capoeira can serve as a catalyst for community-building and character development. Capoeira is his way of life, and he is committed to helping people rise to the best of their potential by encouraging them, without any form of judgment, to find their own rhythm in the game of capoeira, and, by so doing, in their daily activities as well. In Mestre Itaborá’s own words: “There is a game for everyone, regardless of age, ethnicity, and gender or body type”.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTSFirst and foremost, I couldn’t allow an exposure of my life and work with capoeira in a website without recognizing many important masters and capoeiristas who, in one way or another, helped my growth and understanding of this incredible art form.
My respect and gratitude for my mestre, Mestre Camisa, who taught me the first steps, and many more steps, into this game of life. I can’t go on in capoeira without recognizing his teachings, his philosophy, his dedication to this art, and his determination to gain respect for capoeira by many branches of society. He is a constant warrior and his influence is seen all over the world in many capoeira schools, including the many groups that are not affiliated with ABADA Capoeira.
Mestre Suassuna, a great capoeira master and friend. He and his group, Cordão de Ouro, also became an icon in the capoeira world. He is a pioneer that never stopped bringing a message of joy with a different perspective for many capoeira players. He told me that we play capoeira “with” another person and not against that person. He has influenced many people all over the world through his teaching, his playful character and music, and I am very thankful for his instruction and guidance.
Grand Master João Grande, a leader of the Capoeira Angola tradition, he has been a treasure for all capoeira players regardless of their style. I spent precious time taking classes from him at the Instituto do Cacau in Salvador, Bahia in 1990, and I am grateful for that. Those lessons enhanced my understanding of the beauty and intricacies of the Angola game.
Mestre Peixinho, a leader of the Capoeira Senzala group who holds a strong position in the history and tradition of capoeira in Rio. I will never forget the rodas on Friday evenings at Travessa Angrense and how welcoming he has been to all my students when we visit him at the Ladeira do Leme school in Rio.
Mestre Bira Acordeon, a living legend in capoeira. He is a philosopher, a writer, a fine musician, and above all, a master with so much wisdom and charisma. Possessing a deep knowledge of the complexities of the game as well, Mestre Acordeon is a carrier of the founding traditions of Mestre Bimba. His school, at Capoeira Arts Café in downtown Berkeley, is home to his United Capoeira Association. It is a model capoeira school and his events every summer are packed with capoeira players from all over the world.
Mestre Marcelo Caveirinha from Mandinga Capoeira. Thanks for all your support all these years and for the many opportunities you provided me with capoeira and drumming. Mestre Marcelo is located in Oakland, on Piedmont Street. He has been in the Northern California Bay Area for over 23 years and his work with capoeira and the arts has spread to public schools, universities, and community projects. Mestre Marcelo has also been a great capoeira influence in the Bay Area as well as all over the United States.
Mestre Wagner Bueno from Capoeira of San Jose, is a great master with a great heart and a beautiful school located in San Jose, CA. In a very scary and desperate moment of my life, when I had severed my left thumb, Mestre Vaguinho called the capoeira community and offered his school and time to help me out, and I will never forget that.
Mestre Barrão, from Axé Capoeira. Mestre Barrão, a pioneer in Canada, has established himself as a leading force in capoeira. His group has branches in many countries and it ranks among the largest capoeira groups in the world. His work includes music, shows, capoeira, and traditional dances from Pernambuco, Brazil, as well as community projects in Recife, Brazil. Thank you so very much for all the opportunities that you created for me and for the recognition that you showed me for my time and work with capoeira.
Mestre Beiçola, from Capoeira Narahari. Thanks for all your support in all my events with capoeira and music. My friend for years, we met in a capoeira roda in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the late 70’s. Mestre Beiçola has established himself in Palo Alto, CA. Always a challenging player with an irresistible smile, Mestre Beiçola is also a great musician, percussionist and ethnic dancer.
To my capoeira brothers who understand the difficulties of teaching capoeira here in the United States. With the many obstacles I faced and the many mistakes I made, thank you very much and forgive me for the pain that my behavior and misjudgment may have caused: Mestres Ariranha and Sabará.
Thanks to my friend Rogerio Pais da PIUARTE (Piu). Piu has been a great help with his shop in São Paulo, Brazil. Always ready to prepare the materials I need, always prompt with shipping and always patient and happy to serve. Valeu Piu, voce e 10.
Mestre Roberto Farris Thompson, professor of African Art and History at Timothy Dwight College at Yale University. Professor Thompson, “Master T” has been a great supporter of our capoeira cause and my classes at Yale with him and other students were always fun and intense. Thanks professor for all of your support and encouragement. It was a blessing to be at Timothy Dwight College teaching capoeira and talking about the African Diaspora with you.
Mestre Jelon Vieira. Lastly, but not least in any way, my deepest gratitude goes to Mestre Jelon as the pioneer of capoeira in the United States. He remains uniquely responsible for the popularization of capoeira as a respectful and beautiful art form in this country. Among the many helpful opportunities created for me, it was Mestre Jelon who first introduced me to Professor Robert Thompson and it was a distinct honor to work for such a celebrity. In 1985, when I arrived in New York City, Mestre Jelon opened his doors to me, and the many opportunities for growth he provided are much too long to put into one page. Yet, I am not the only one who he has helped. The list of capoeira players who have benefited in one way or another from his help and influence includes: Mestre Boneco (Capoeira Brazil), Mestre Ombrinho, Contra-Mestre Pilão, Mestre Amem (Capoeira Batuque), Nilson Santos, Mestre Nego Gato, Mestre Ariranha, Mestre Bom Jesus, Mestranda Edna Lima (ABADA Capoeira), Mestre Marcelo Caveirinha (Mandinga Capoeira), Mestre Rã, Charles Negrita -percussionist, Silvana Magda and Lygia Barreto -dancers and choreographers, and this is but a small record of all the artists, dancers, musicians and capoeiristas who were helped by Mestre Jelon in this country. Through his tireless work with capoeira, as well as with ethnic and modern dance, Mestre Jelon positioned himself as an authority in this field. His award winning dance company, Dance Brazil, has been recognized by the New York Times and by other important media as one of the best dance companies in the United States.
I believe, and ask of every capoeira player and teacher in this country, that you know who this mestre is, what he has done to promote capoeira and Afro-Brazilian culture here, and that you recognize how much easier he has made it for all of us to work with the art of capoeira here in the United States. To know more about this incredibly generous mestre, please visit his website at (http://www.mestrejelon.com) and drop him a note acknowledging his work.