“Knowledge is power and teachers are guides who can help you reach your full potential.”
Beto is the founder of the Chicago chapter of the International Capoeira Angola Foundation, as well as the co-founder of the children’s program, Capo4kids. Prior to the pandemic, Beto taught at several public schools that are woefully under-resourced. He uses capoeira as a tool to help children access their own sense of autonomy and empowerment. Through this practice, he’s able to address issues ranging from cultural tolerance to health disparities.
What led you to be a teaching artist?
Growing up in Rio it was not hard to stumble upon people playing capoeira on the streets. I was fascinated with the beautiful combination of music and movement. But it was not until I started college that I was able to experience it. I was immediately hooked. The challenges it presented, both physically and mentally, along with a new sense of social awareness, helped shape the person I am and continue becoming. In 1994, I migrated to the U.S. My desire to continue my practice, and share with others the benefits capoeira had brought to my life, led me to become a teacher. I discovered a love for teaching. The privilege and honor of passing on knowledge that was passed to me gave me enormous pleasure and satisfaction, but also a sense of responsibility and duty. Witnessing students fall in love with capoeira, while seeing and guiding their development over the years has been a transformative experience. The teaching path made me realize the importance of being a good student in order to honestly and masterfully pass on knowledge.
My philosophy is rooted in inspiration and relationship. That anyone, young and old, will always learn more if they are inspired. A subject or a teacher, and sometimes both, can create that inspiration. I use storytelling (my personal experiences) and practical demonstrations (movement and music) to create that inspiration. My approach is to, first, build relationships. I do not believe in top-down teaching. I believe both the teacher and the student need to come together in order for learning to take place. Therefore, when I show up for class, I am there as much to teach, as I am to learn from my students and our shared experiences. I use humor in my classes as a way to break the ice and expose myself emotionally, which allows my students to do the same. Once a trusting relationship is established, and that looks different from person to person, I start laying down the foundation of what I am there to teach.
I start simple, to allow all participants to slowly and confidently build, and feel that anything is possible. A strong and self-motivated foundation is the most critical step in my classes. Once a student learns how to perform the basic techniques of the movements, and demonstrates control of their body while doing the movement (i.e. foundation), I give them the freedom to express themselves, allowing for their own personality and creativity to come through the movements (i.e. inspiration).