2016 Festival Performer Biographies

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Adenilson Jose Dos Santos, a.k.a. Mestre Doutor, is a Capoeira Master and a Berimbau craftsman.  A native of Brazil, Adenilson has been a practitioner of Capoeira for 39 years and has devoted his life to the preservation and sharing of this Brazilian folk art.


Capoeira was created by African slaves as a means to protect themselves from their oppressors over 500 years ago and is practiced with the sound of the Berimbau, a single-string musical bow.  Its elements of ritualized combat weave together in an intricate dialogue of movements combined with aspects of dance, acrobatics, music, and self-defense.  Messier Doutor has taken seriously the commitment to spread the skills of capoeira around the world and has done so with the highest skill, integrity, and dedication to the tradition.


Adenilson Dos Santos is an exceptionally gifted teacher of Capoeira.  His passion and dedication are reflected in his commitment to the preservation of Afro-Brazilian roots and make him a strong role model, invaluable teacher and inspirational leader.  Adenilson Dos Santos is the founder of Project Capoeira, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that fosters intercultural understanding and a sense of community through arts education and social outreach.  Project Capoeira is also the organizer of Brazilian Day Philadelphia, a festival that boasts an empowering mission to bring the best of Brazil to Philadelphia, build community, and celebrate diversity.





Thais is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist since 1998. She holds a MA in Theatre from the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), a Certificate in Professional Acting from the Foundation of Arts of Sao Caetano do Sul (Brazil) and a BA in Art Education from the University of Belas Artes of Sao Paolo (Brazil). While in Brazil, besides her work as an actor, she also co-founded Lazzo Productions, a theatre company devoted to adapt Shakespeare's plays for children. For more than 10 years, she also worked with corporate entertainment, taking live performances, designed to educate and entertain work places, to companies, schools, and businesses around the country. Thais moved to Fayetteville, AR from Brazil in July of 2007. In 2009, she moved to Omaha, NE, where besides attending graduate school, she also colaborated with different theatres in town. Amongst many other accomplishments, she co-directed UNO’s Mirror of the Invivisible World and directed the world premiere of Caridad Svich’s The Archaelogy of Dreams. After living for four years in Omaha, another change came, and in December of 2013, she moved to Philadelphia, PA. Thais is excited to start establishing new connections in the East Coast!



Big Bang Fest SOBs 1.13.14

Dendê & Band

Dendê is a percussionist, singer, composer, bandleader, teacher, and multi-instrumentalist. He’s been a professional musician since the age of 14, when he appeared in the frontline of Timbalada, Carlinhos Brown’s superstar percussion ensemble. Since 2001, he’s been developing his solo career, splitting his time between the US and Bahia. Now on their second album, Dendê & Band have cultivated a unique sound where Afro-Brazilian traditions like samba de roda and candomble have been seemlessly melded with world rhythms like rumba, afrobeat and mbalax. Dendê & Band have recently performed at venues such as the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles; the KW Latinfest in Ontario, Canada; the Penang World Music Festival inMalaysia; Summerdance in Chicago and the Chile Pepper Fiesta at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.






Arrastão do Dendê:

Afro-Brazilian Samba Percussion & Dance Troupe

In Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, an arrastão is a group of percussionists that parades during Carnaval and other street parties. They play traditional Afro-Brazilian rhythms on timbals, surdos, baqurinhas and occasionally trumpets and trombones.The Arrastão do Dendê was formed in 2000 by Dendê, an Afro-Brazilian percussionist from Bahia. Having been a long-time member of the band Timbalada, Dendê has peformed extensively throughout Brazil, Asia, Europe and the US.

His arrastão performs traditional Afro-Brazilian rhythms as well as his own. With members from Brazil as well as many other countries from around the world, the group can be accompanied by singers and dancers. They have been featured in performances all over New York including the Copacabana, BAMCafe, SOBs, Galapagos, Walker Stage and New York City's Halloween Parade.










DJ Erv Master has been DJing for the best Brazilian events around the nation for the last 18 years and he has been the official DJ of Brazilian Day New York for the past 15 years.  With experience playing for over 1 million people at a time, DJ Erv Master always brings limitless energy and excitement to the event and gets everyone dancing.  He is also the official DJ of the Miss Brazil USA pageant and can be found playing in many of the best clubs in U.S., Brazil and Canada.



Cleonice Fonseca, a Brazilian from Salvador - Bahia, began her career in the dance group of the Colégio Central de Bahia participating in projects and shows produced there.  She learned her first African dance techniques, folk, religious dances (orixás) and African contemporary with renowned teachers such as Raimundo Tição, Raimundo King, Raimunda Sena, Tania Bishop, Nildinha Fonseca and José Ricardo Santos.


As a member of the SESC Dance Group for 10 years, she participated in several shows produced by the entity for the promotion of African Dance and Brazilian folklore, including taking the show to other cities in Brazil and Santiago, Chile as the first international trip for cultural exchange.  As a dancer, she participated in other projects, dance groups and musical bands such as Banda Motumba, Dia e Noite (the state government project), Lagobada Group, Artists Meeting project (acting in the area of production).  She participated in African dance workshops conducted by the Bale Folklorico de Bahia, and African dance by Professor Oshuntiye Brown (USA).


Since June 2014, she has been living in Philadelphia where she teaches weekly Afro Brazilian dance workshops in collaboration with Mamadêlê Productions and Ascab Capoeira.  She also performs with Ologunde and Alo Brazil and teaches at an arts education program in South Philly coordinated by educator Howard Tucker.


Hailing from Fortaleza, Liliana Araújo belts out songs of love, of struggle, and of celebration over the holy trinity of forró: accordion, zabumba, and triangle, core instruments in her band. Owner of a soulful voice and palpable authenticity, Liliana is one of the latest Brazilian darlings of New York. Forró (fo-HO) was born in the cowboy land, in the heart of the Northeast of Brazil. It is inspired by the lives of the working class and the energy generated by a long week of back-breaking work chasing down runaway cattle, tilling fields, or laboring in the sugar and flour mills, sometimes dancing after work from dusk to sunrise. Liliana honors the traditions of forró, following in the footsteps of the old masters, but she also infuses a contemporary touch. Forró is a celebration of life, family, friends, love, and community. What are you waiting for? Let's forrozar!