Francisco Antonio Rodrigues da Silva⎯better known to his students as Mestre Fran⎯began his journey with Caopeira at age 10, studying the ancient dancelike martial art under a seasoned teacher in Sao Paolo. After years of learning the hypnotic rhythmic moves of Capoeira and studying the African dance rhythms of Macuele, Mestre Fran took his art to the streets of Londrina, Brazil, giving impoverished youth a positive outlet for their creative energies with public performances and classes. After developing a successful martial arts organization in his home country, Mestre Fran set out for the United States in 2002, introducing Americans to Caoperia through cultural shows throughout the Atlanta area and instructing newcomers through beginner, children's, and adult classes.
Like punching a portrait of your smug fruit bowl, capoeria combines both art and fighting. The practice develops the mind, body, and spirit by instilling self-confidence, building agility and strength, and teaching students about the vibrant culture of Brazil. Capoeiristas twist and bob to the rhythm of drums as they execute gymnastic kicks and turns, or they show off their newfound knowledge at the studio's Friday-night Samba, Macuele, and Portuguese language classes.
Belly dance guru Saroya has been practicing and teaching the middle eastern dance form for more than two decades, a career path that has taken her across the country to numerous competitions and festivals. At Bellydance by Saroya, she imparts her routine expertise on students of all ability, leading beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes that make use of layered movements and zills—finger cymbals—to help maintain rhythm and keep thumbs in shape.