Abada-Capoeira DC


The mission of Abada-Capoeira DC is to promote, spread, and support Brazilian arts and culture through the practice of capoeira, and to use our practice of capoeira and associated arts to build a healthy and more closely connected Washington, DC-area community.  We are organized to accomplish charitable and educational goals including working to lessen socio-economic inequality.

Brief history of Abada-capoeira DC

In 2008, Yara Cordeiro came to the Washington DC area to found the Abada-Capoeira DC program.  ABADA DC, as we commonly refer to it, shares its name and philosophy with its parent organization, the Brazilian Association for the Support and Development of the Art of Capoeira (Associação Brasileira de Apoio e Desenvolvimento da Arte Capoeira, or Abada-Capoeira).  Abada-Capoeira was founded by Mestre Camisa in Rio de Janeiro, and today has representatives all over the world.  One of the most highly-ranked women in the worldwide Abada-Capoeira structure today, Professora Yara had been practicing and teaching capoeira for more than twenty years in Brazil before moving the United States.

Offering classes in martial arts academies, dance studios, and schools, Professora Yara brought to the DC area a high-quality capoeira program based on the belief that, given the opportunity to develop their skill, all people have the ability to succeed.  Abada-Capoeira aims to provide all participants, regardless of socioeconomic status, identity, or ability, the tools to learn the art, improve as individuals and possibly become professional capoeira practitioners as well.

In 2014, Abada-Capoeira DC was recognized as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.  Today, we offer regular classes for both adults and children year-round, 6 days a week, at locations in Maryland and Virginia.  In addition, we offer periodic on-site after-school and summer camp class sessions; these typically run for eight weeks at a time.  As of December 2014, Abada-Capoeira DC is working to implement a scholarship program to make classes accessible to a wider range of young people, including those whose families would struggle to pay our class fees.

Values and Philosophy

Our work is inspired by commitment to principles that include:

–          positive appreciation for diversity;
–          equal respect for each and every individual’s contribution to our community;
–          personal integrity, honesty, and accountability;
–          demonstration of leadership by serving as a positive role model;
–          lifelong pursuit of education and knowledge; and
–          cultivation of community, a sense of belonging, and camaraderie.

Following in the footsteps of and traditions initiated by the founder of ABada-Capoeira, Mestre Camisa, we teach capoeira with a view to using the practice of the art as a tool for individual and communal growth.  Pursuit of technical mastery of capoeira movements is intended to promote discipline and mental and physical awareness.  With mastery of movements, students gain the ability to participate in group capoeira play in a “roda”, or circle, which requires and helps players to develop creativity.  As students progress in skill, they transform into the teachers of the next generation, developing their leadership potential and building a closer community.  Students and teachers alike serve the broader community as artistic and cultural resources by sharing the art of capoeira through public performances.  Throughout the world, Abada-Capoeira promotes social integration between people of different backgrounds, and instills good character and dignity in its students.  We pursue these goals by coming together regularly outside of classes to share celebrations, and to give back to our community through activities including blood donation and food, toy, and clothing collections.

Cultural and Charitable Activities

Consistent with the philosophy of Abada-Capoeira, which embraces social responsibility, Abada-Capoeira DC works to share Brazilian culture, and participates in charitable campaigns aimed at supporting the local community, throughout Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Our charitable campaigns typically include:

  • an annual blood drive;
  • an annual clothing drive; and
  • toy and food collection for donation
  • Road cleaning.

These donations are made to local charities including the American Red Cross, Interfaith Clothing Center, and Salvation Army.

In order to educate members of the community about Brazilian history and culture, we continually seek out opportunities to present performances and exhibitions to the public.  During warmer months, Abada-Capoeira DC provides free outdoor capoeira performances for the general public in various locations throughout Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.  The performances typically take place at county fairs, community events, and in major town centers, and showcase not just the martial art of capoeira, but also dialogue with attendees about the history of the art and the songs and musical instruments that accompany performances.  After the performance, when possible, attendees are invited to the stage to try some basic capoeira movements and sample the musical instruments.

In addition, Abada-Capoeira DC periodically puts on capoeira performances for children attending after-school programs in the Washington, DC area.  Children in attendance at these programs have an opportunity to see a capoeira demonstration, and when possible, practice some of the movements and play with the instruments involved in the capoeira orchestra.  For many of these children, this is their first experience with capoeira and a unique opportunity to learn about Brazilian culture through the martial art, including its history, music and dance.

Once a year, Abada-Capoeira DC hosts an international meeting of capoeira practitioners, called a “batizado,” in which top-ranked instructors and masters of capoeira from around the globe come to Washington, D.C., to interact and share their knowledge with students, who also come from around the country and the world.  During this event there is a free capoeira performance in which renowned capoeira instructors showcase their talent to the general public.

We form a closer community with Abada-Capoeira practitioners elsewhere in the U.S. and around the world by traveling throughout the year to visit other groups of students, and by going to visit Brazil once every two years.  Trips to practice with other Abada-Capoeira groups elsewhere in the U.S. are often timed to coincide with special ceremonies and competitions.  On these trips, students continue to improve their individual mastery while at the same time deepening their exposure to and knowledge of Brazilian culture.  Visits to Brazil coincide with biannual world competitions and gatherings of Abada-Capoeira practitioners that draw more than 5,000 individuals for a week of shared learning and cultural exchange.

Our Courses

Capoeira classes involve not just physical training but also cultural, historical and pedagogical education for all students.

Central elements of our courses include:

  • Physical Training.  This helps students to develop strength, flexibility, balance, agility, and coordination.
  • Language Training.  Capoeira, being a Brazilian martial art, is played and taught in Brazilian Portuguese.  Basic phrases, the names of all movements, and the songs are all in Portuguese.  Little by little, all students learn the language.  All advanced students are expected to be able to conduct short conversations in Portuguese, and students who reach the level of Instructor are fluent.
  • Instruments and Singing.  Music is a critical component of capoeira.  Students will learn how to play the 4 basic instruments that make up the orchestra that accompanies capoeira players, and to sing the melodies.
  • Culture.  The body of knowledge learned through capoeira goes beyond just the martial art.  Samba, Maculelê, Jongo, Côco, Puxada de Rede, and many cultural forms of expression from Brazil are also learned in the process of learning capoeira.
  • History.  Capoeira is a relatively new martial art very strongly related to Afro-Brazilian history, slavery, the fight against oppression, resistance, and inclusion.  These principles that were central to Afro-Brazilian history are also a central part of world history and the struggles of oppressed people around the world.  A feature unique to capoeira is that many of the creators and leaders of the art are still alive, or have been captured in video and interviews.  Students have the opportunity to learn from these masters firsthand by watching videos or in person, during workshops organized by Abada-Capoeira DC with leading practitioners as guest instructors.

Professora Yara

Yara Cordeiro has been practicing capoeira since 1982. She holds a Bachelor’s Degrees in psychology and physical education, and has been a physical education teacher since 1994. She has Graduate Degrees in Sports Psychology and in Capoeira from the University of Brasília (UnB) and a Master’s Degree in Psychology from the Brasília Catholic University (UCB). She has consistently directed her studies towards understanding the unexplored aspects of the relationship between capoeira and sports psychology. This has led to the publication of three books: Capoeira, Identidade e Adolescência [Capoeira, Identity and Adolescence] (2008); Capoeira e desenvolvimento [Capoeira and development] (2005) and Capoeira e auto-estima [Capoeira and self-esteem], (1998/2003), the latter now in its second edition.

Besides her academic work, in capoeira Yara has been a practitioner since 1982 and a teacher since 1996. She has held workshops and given lectures about capoeira in Brazil and the U.S. Yara is qualified to teach capoeira to the most diverse groups: children, adolescents, adults, people with special needs and the elderly. She has created a special fitness program that uses capoeira movements for aerobic and localized exercises, as well as another program that uses capoeira movements as a form of body expression and for choreography.

Yara has traveled around the world showing capoeira. She took part in workshops and shows in Brazil, the U.S., France, Switzerland, Germany and South Korea, among other countries. From 2000 to 2004, Yara also competed in regional, national and world championships, achieving the following ranks:

      • Abada-capoeira International Competition 2010 –  San Francisco, California (November/2010)
        3rd Overall / Women’s Champion
      •  IV Abada-Capoeira Brazilian Games – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August/2004)
        Women’s Champion
      • IV Abada-Capoeira World Games – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August/2003)
        Women’s 4th place
      • III Abada-Capoeira Federal District Games – Brasilia, Brazil (June/2003)
        Women’s Champion
      • III Abada-Capoeira Brazilian Games – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August/2002)
        Women’s 3rd place
      • II Abada-Capoeira Federal District Games – Brasilia, Brazil (June/2002)
        Women’s Champion / Iuna’s Game Champion / 4th place Overall
      • III Abada-Capoeira World Games – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August/2001)
        Women’s 3rd place
      • II Abada-Capoeira Brazilian Games – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (September/2000)
        Women’s Champion
      • II Abada-Capoeira South-Brazilian Games – Florianopolis, Brazil (June/2002)
        Women’s Champion / Iuna’s Game Champion
        Graduation Champion (Green cord) / 3rd place Overall Graduated Category

In 2008 Professora Yara moved to the Washington DC area and to implement and coordinate the Abadá-Capoeira program in that region. In 2012 Abada-Capoeira DC was recognized as a nonprofit – 501(c)(3) organization.

More recently, in 2015, Professora Yara was approved for her Permanent Residency in the U.S. as a person with Exceptional Ability in the National Interest for her knowledge and achievement in Capoeira.

Administrative structure

OUR BOARD OF DIRECTORS  (Capoeira apelido, or nickname, in parentheses)

President:  Yara Cordeiro (Profesora Yara)
Secretary:  Luis Antonio Bitencourt Emilio Jr. (Colmeia)
Treasurer:  Jared Snow (Baiacu)
Special Projects Manager:  Audrey Donnell (Estrela)
Community Outreach Manager:  Ruth Lezama (Charada)
Sponsorship & Grants Manager:  John Patton (Fósforo)
Sponsorship & Grants Assistant: Luisa Cortes (Feiticeira)


We also have several teams and committees coordinated by the board members, with the support and participation of students.  These special teams manage:

. Communication with students and families;
. Website and social media;
. Fundraising activities;
. Grants and sponsorships;
. Marketing;
. Birthday celebrations and other festivities;
. Group bonding activities;
. Trips;
. Outdoor exhibition rodas;
. Social campaigns;
. Scholarship programs;
. After school programs; and
. Other special projects.

Annual Report

To open our annual report please click on the link below
AbadaDC_Annual Report_2016-17

To open our 2016-17 990-EZ please click on the link below
2016-17 990-EZ


To request previous annual reports / 990-EZ forms, please contact us by email.