mestre jelon




Artist Statement & Bio

“As a former middle school teacher, lifelong arts educator and learner, deeply committed to leaving this world better than we found it. I believe people make the difference, and this is at the heart of all I do.”

Known as Sabiá to most friends, family and the capoeira community, Fabiano Pinheiro was born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil and received his capoeira apelido at the tender age of 9. Sabiá started his martial arts journey training under the supervision of Mestre Jelon Vieira with Grupo Capoeira Brasil in Salvador. Sabiá received his Professor rank in 2012.

Immigrating to the New York City in 2003, Contramestre Sabiá has uses capoeira as a vehicle to enrich the lives of youth practitioners across the 5 boroughs of New York City and currently in the Bay Area of California. As one of the founding team members of the KIPP AMP Capoeira program Contramestre Sabiá and Pantera (Nicole Smith) were the first to implement a fully inclusive Capoeira fitness and arts program into the KIPP charter schools system. The KIPP AMP Capoeira program has serviced 500 students in batizados and changing of cord ceremonies. Contramestre Sabiá was the full-time founding Capoeira Physical Education teacher for 7 years working with ages 9-15 years old until the spring of 2011. 

Leaving KIPP AMP to take a position at the prestigious New York University at Tisch School of the Arts, Contramestre Sabiá was integral to the support and develop their integrated capoeira programming. The capoeira program at NYU continues to be the first Drama & Theater program to mandate capoeira into their curriculum stating that the art form is an integral tool for students to understand movement acquisition, balance, coordination and improvisation. Contramestre Sabiá worked at NYU from fall 2011 until Spring 2014.

Contramestre Sabiá has also worked in commercials, folkloric events and performances that promote the art of capoeira; television commercials for Subway Sandwiches, Orbitz Gum, America’s Got Talent, NY Film Academy documentary Film “The Evolution of the Art of Capoeira in the World,” National Endowment for the Arts Folk Festivals in Lowell Massachusetts and Richmond Virginia, music video “Slave to the Beat” by Cid the Kid, photo shoot layout for X magazine with Ricky Martin, Global Passport Charity Performance with the United Nations in Bermuda, Virgin Islands, participation with second DanceBrazil company performance at Fall for Dance at the City Center of New York, and the Sun Flower Children Russell Simmons charity event performance to name a few.

Currently Contramestre Sabiá teaches quarterly adult classes in New York City and the surrounding boroughs; all capoeira class sites are for all ages. Since his recent move (fall 2014) to the Bay Area, Contramestre Sabiá has started an adult class in Walnut Creek, California and is working in a handful of Oakland Unified Schools. He was a founding teacher at One Purpose School located in the Bayview of San Francisco. Now he is the Director of Get Empowered a multicultural Arts Organization program. 

Contramestre Sabiá also collaborates with The Capoeira Center of New York by helping support grant work that fosters the development and maintenance of capoeira art across the United States.

 In September 2008, Jelon Vieira was awarded one of eleven National Heritage Fellowships, the country’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. As founder and artistic director of The Capoeira Foundation and DanceBrazil, he and the late Loremil Machado were the first artists to bring traditional Afro-Brazilian dance and Capoeira to the United States over thirty years ago. He has devoted his life to sharing Afro-Brazilian culture with American audiences since 1977 when, together with Machado, he formed The Capoeiras of Bahia. That same year the late Alvin Ailey suggested he change the name of the company to DanceBrazil. It now makes over thirty years that Vieira has guided the company through breathtaking performances of Capoeira and Afro-Brazilian dance before audiences in Europe, Asia, and Brazil, as well as the United States.

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. 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.

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 and has also taught at many other universities and colleges including Oberlin College, Columbia University, Stanford University and Duke University. He has worked with several American dance companies including Dance Theater of Harlem and Alvin Ailey. He has also worked closely with other cultural institutes in the United States such as the Caribbean Cultural Center in New York and the Carver Community Cultural Center in San Antonio, Texas. In 1993, after a decade of collaboration between DanceBrazil and the Carver Cultural Community Center, Mr. Vieira and Carver Center Director Jo Long decided to create Ilê Bahia de San Antonio, the House of African-Brazilian Arts. The organization was incorporated in 1993 to establish a professional level instruction and training center in the African- Brazilian performing arts. Special emphasis is placed on training at-risk, minority youth in a positive and culturally affirming activity.

When at home in Brazil, he teaches children and young adults in his home community of Boca do Rio, using Capoeira to build self-esteem, instill self-discipline and to raise social consciousness while helping his students become a vital part of their own community.