MENTHORS – Gathering of tribes Slovenija 2024, Capoeira retreat

mestre Russo de Caxias

Mestre Russo de Caxias

Jonas Rabelo – O Zelador is a significant figure in the history of Capoeira Angola and of its true preservation, especially in Rio de Janeiro. He dedicates himself to Capoeira Angola in the neighbourhood of Baixada Fluminense, in Rio. He is in charge of the roda in Caxias, and any capoeira worth his/her salt will head to the roda in Caxias, one of the last true street rodas, when they are in town.

O Zelador (The Caretaker) is a documentary film that looks at Mestre Russo’s life and his contributions to Capoeira Angola.

“A good capoeirista in the roda has to demonstrate his ability to play well. A skilful capoeirista chama atencao (calls attention) while he is playing because of something special that he does, Mestre Russo cuts a striking figure with his smart dress, always wearing pressed trousers, leather shoes and a panama hat.”

Russo is famous for pushing other players out of the roda with powerful kicks, and he invariably demonstrates his capacity to do so. Often during the game he will corner the other player and put his hand in his pocket and pull it out rapidly, pretending that he has a knife, and then proceed to mock gut or slit the throat of the other player, evoking the violence of the capoeira gangs of old Rio de Janeiro. The moment after he has done this a smile by him will restore the inherent playfulness of the capoeirista. At other times he will distract the other player by removing his hat and then, using the advantage that he has created and will attack with a head butt.

Interview with O Zelador – mestre Russo de Caxias

mestre Federico

Mestre Federico Nicolis Preto

He began studying capoeira in 1996 within the “Movimento Verde-Amarelo” group, attending at the same time numerous workshops held by the most important Brazilian masters resident in Italy and Europe.

In 2000 he began holding workshops with children, contemporary dance and theater groups. He resided for five months in Brazil, in Bahia, with the aim of collecting material to carry out his degree thesis at the DAMS in Bologna, entitled “Capoeira: fight, game, music and dance in today’s Brazil” (first university thesis in Italy to analyze capoeira, awarded with honors).

During his stay in Bahia he came into contact with the “Capoeira Angola Palmares” group founded by Mestre Nô and in November 2001 he began teaching at the Teatro Polivalente Occupato (TPO) in Bologna.
In May 2004 he received the Professor chord from Mestre Nô and Mestre Lazaro and in 2014 that of Contramestre. In 2018, together with the celebrations for the 15th batizado of his group, Mestre (the first Italian mestre of capoeira angola) was formed by Mestre Nô, in the presence of Mestre Lazaro.

He currently teaches various courses between Bologna and Modena as well as working at various schools with students aged 3 to 18.

Mestre Nasr ‘Versátil’ Ismail

Versátil is known for his detailed yet motivating teaching style and knowledge of the seemingly disparate aspects of dance and combat. Versátil also holds a Masters in Counseling Psychology and has developed a suite of Capoeira, Martial Arts, and Movement based therapies called The Warrior Class. Within these modalities, Versátil works with youth in addiction, young adults with developmental differences, couples and individual clients, as well as Transformational Justice, Community Accountability and Repair within Capoeira, as well as other movement and cultural communities. This work in community and individual well being informs Versátil’s work in Capoeira, centering around the tenet that Capoeira itself Is a method for Community Well Being, and should be regarded thusly, with mindfulness and professionalism.

He has over forty years of experience in the martial arts and thirty years in Capoeira. As a Mestre of Capoeira, Versátil is one of a handful of people to have reached this rank in the United States and is one of the most experienced American born practitioners of the art. Versátil regularly teaches in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas of Southern California. He also travels often to teach throughout the USA, Mexico, Croatia, Lebanon, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Thailand.

Being a member of Capoeira Batuque, Versátil and his students are participating in a tradition of Capoeira first brought to Southern California by Mestre Amen Santo, from the teaching of the legendary Mestre Waldemar da Paixão. This tradition and reaches back to the legendary Besouro Mangangá.

Documentary: Capoeira journey with mestre Versatil

contramestre Thiago

Contramestre Thiago 

Thiago Martins Santos was born on June 7th 1984 in Santos (São Paulo/ Brasil). He started Capoeira with José Valter Batista Santos (Mestre Valtinho), who is also his father. He began practicing Capoeira at an early age at his father’s school “Valtinho da Senzala”.
After many years of intensive training, he earned the title of Formado in 2004, which allows to teach other students. Shortly after, at the young age of 19, he moved to France to start his own group.
In the year 2010 he founded a School in Agadir (Morocco). In the year of 2011 he moved to Tenerife for one year, in order to teach Capoeira in cooperation with contramestre Joelson.
Due to the high number of invitations he gets to participate at workshops of different Capoeira groups, he constantly travels through Europe to teach children and adults.

Estagiário Bocão

Upon his return to his hometown of Kuching in 2012, Malcolm who is also known as ‘Bocão’ within the capoeira community, established the first capoeira school in Sarawak and set about spreading the gospel of capoeira. Malcolm has worked extensively with children and youths, not just as a capoeira instructor, but as a mentor, big brother and role model. He initiated a weekly programme for the children of the Salvation Army which ran for four years.

Malcolm was conducting workshops for schools, non-governmental organizations and public events, including the world-renown Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) in 2017, as well as private events for individuals and corporate clients. Years of corporate experience in the fields of strategic management and hospitality has stood him in good stead as a versatile planner and multifaceted collaborator and communicator.

For Malcolm, capoeira is a way of life that extends beyond martial arts into a love for life and all it has to offer. Not only has capoeira opened doors for him to study and teach the martial art around the world, it has also served as his anchor, model and guideline for living life to the fullest. It inspires him to keep learning to reach his fullest potential and to help others discover and create their own motivation and passion for life.

He is presently under the tutelage of Mestre Nasr ‘Versátil’ Ismail of Capoeira Batuque (USA), contramestre Cavalo (HR/SI) and professora Katjuša Kovačič of Capoeira Balanço da Meia Lua (SI).


Nikola Orešković (contramestre Cavalo)

teacher, capoeirista, dancer, taekwondo master, acrobat, stuntman and performer

Started with capoeira in 2003; as there were no Brazilian teachers in Croatia, he and Macaquinha formed Capoeira Amazonas and later started working with mestre Pontapé. Cavalo lead classes, organised workshops, festivals, summer camps, performances; did graphic design and video documentation. He was the first person in Croatia that got the rank of Capoeira professor in 2012 and was officially recognised as contramestre in 2021 by a wider Capoeira community.
Now actively teaching in Slovenia (Balanço da Meia Lua) with professora Katjuša; they are also active in Borneo with a group Arvore da Vida lead by estagiario Bocao; the 3 of them organise a yearly Capoeira festival: Gathering of tribes in Slovenia and Borneo. He travels a lot and has taught Capoeira and Fluid Balance – Creative Acrobatics workshops in Europe, Americas, Asia and Africa.

Cavalo did field trips to Brazil and other countries and worked with many renowned teachers, always learning, exploring and deepening his knowledge in Capoeira. Just to name a few masters (mestres): Russo de Caxias (Cosmos Capoeira), Camaleao (Filhos de Angola), Itapuã Beiramar (escola Nestor Capoeira), Pantera (A.C.D.P), Pitbull (Jacobina Arte), Umoi (GUC), Xuxo (Pelo Sinal do Santa Cruz), Cigano & Rosita (Longe do Mar), Zé Antonio (Mojuba Capoeira), Nô (Angola Palmares), Acordeon (UCA), Versátil (Batuque) and of course with many great capoeira teachers not yet attaining the title of “mestre”.

Nikola has over 30 years of experience as a teacher and performer in various mind/body/movement practices and works with individuals from different artistic disciplines, abilities and walks of life.
Having a master degree 3rd dan in olympic Taekwondo, he is the co-founder and member of the first Croatian Martial Arts Tricks demo team “X-OUT” and is a martial arts practitioner and explorer.
Nikola is skilled in hand-balancing, circus/acrobatics, capoeira, gymnastics, stunts and contemporary dance. He merges all these disciplines in his own training system, passing his knowledge to students through Fluid balance – creative acrobatics (co-created with Katjuša Kovačič) classes, workshops and performances. Since 2003, he has been professionally active as a stuntman (Game of Thrones, Hitman’s wife’s bodyguard, Man from Jersey, Dig, Strike Back, The Ipcress file…).

Katjuša and Nikola are authors and producers of several documentaries on Capoeira, Batuque, Silat, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, White Crane Kung fu. Nikola also creates video tutorials for various movement disciplines. He worked as associate professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology at the department of acrobatics.
nikola is an active member of Integrated Movement Research Collective, Croatian Dancers Association and Croatian Film Artists Association.

Katjuša Kovačič (professora Katjuša)

dancer, teacher, capoeirista, theatre artist, performer, visual artist, musician
Short documentary

Katjuša fell in love with capoeira in 2006 and is highly dedicated to it until today. First enchanted by her acrobatic and fluid moves, she continued exploring the body conversation, theatrical expressions and its martial side.
That led her to use it actively in her dance and theatre performances and teachings of Fluid balance – creative acrobatics.
She also produced her illustrated book Arte da Capoeira 2013. After 2018 she dived deeper into musicality, singing, improvising and creating new songs in Portuguese.
Since 2018 she works closely with Nikola Orešković (contramestre Cavalo). In 2022 they produced and recorded audio album with author songs Sucuri beats: Guerreiros. It is based on Capoeira music with addition of unconventional melodies and instruments with the help of fellow musicians. They have produced several above-mentioned performances as well as documentaries, art videos and graphic designs related to Capoeira.

Since 2018 they organise a monthly roda aberta in Ljubljana, where different capoeiristas from vicinity and share their love for Capoeira.

First 11 years of her Capoeira journey she studied with mestre Alegria; former student of gran mestre Nô (Capoeira Angola Palmares). Next 5 was with mestre Pontapé; student of gran mestre Pantera (ACDP). She is currently travelling around the world and obtaining knowledge from various known and less known mestres and mestras.
Katjuša received her professor belt (cordel de professora) as first person from Slovenia in 2014. In 2018 she formed the group Capoeira Balanço da Meia Lua in Ljubljana which she mentors together with contramestre Cavalo; they are also active in Borneo/Sarawak with a group Arvore da Vida lead by estagiario Bocao; the 3 of them organize a yearly Capoeira festival: Gathering of tribes in Slovenia and Borneo.

Katjuša travelled Brazil and other countries where she got acquainted/learned/worked with several masters (mestres & mestras): Salvador (CDO), Umoi & Tucas (União na Capoeira), Bamba (Associação de Bimba), Joao Paulo (Nação), Celso (Girassol), Pitbull (Jacobina Arte), Magrelo & China (Raça), Piolha & Omar (União), gran mestre Nô (Angola Palmares), Versátil (Capoeira Batuque – USA), Rosita & Cigano (LGDM México). In Ljubljana she learns a lot about Capoeira Regional and the tradition of Candomble and how is it connected to Capoeira with her friend contramestre Tirindin.

She applies expressions of Capoeira in all of her artistic projects. Since the age of 5 she was enrolled in 8 year contemporary dance school, later on with improvisation, physical and street theatre. The street is where she started to produce her own shows by the age of 15. In her 20’s she moved to Beijing for a year to be part of BIAS Circus acrobatic school. She runs Fluid balance – creative acrobatics together with Nikola. She continues till this day the journey of exploration and connection of different disciplines, cultures, languages and expressions; producing performances, gatherings, retreats, workshops and other artistic materials/content.