Capoeira Angola Center of Mestre João Grande

About Our Academy


João Oliveira dos Santos (Mestre João Grande)

Mestre João Grande was born on January 15th 1933 in the town of Itagi in Bahia, Brazil. He was a direct student of the legendary Mestre Pastinha. He dedicated more than 60 years to Capoeira Angola and is one of the most respected and recognized Mestres of all times in the world. He teaches Capoeira the African way, as a philosophy and a way of life, respecting the roots, history and tradition. Today, he teaches Capoeira in his Academy Capoeira Angola Center of Mestre João Grande in New York with many affiliates of the group: Capoeira Angola Center Arizona, Capoeira Angola Center Finland, Capoeira Angola Center Italy, Capoeira Angola Center Japan, Capoeira Angola Center Los Angeles, Capoeira Angola Center Ngolo Arts, Capoeira Angola Center Oakland, Capoeira Angola Center Serbia, Capoeira Angola Center Africa-Kenia, Capoeira Angola Center San Diego and Capoeira Angola Center Illinois. Mestre João Grande was recognized for his work and contribution, and received a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Upsala College, and was also awarded the National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts as a representative of the national patrimony, which is one of the most prestigious awards given to practitioners of traditional arts in the US. From:

To read more about Mestre, visit his page at



photo (18)Denis Chiaramonte (Contra-Mestre Denis)

Originally from Jundiaí, São Paulo, Brazil, Denis Chiaramonte has had a rich experience in the art and profession of Capoeira, totaling thirty years. He trained with some of the great mestres of the field, including Mestre Suassuna under whom he achieved the level of Contra -Mestre. After many years as an advanced student, Denis was invited by Mestre Chicote, his friend who resides and teaches in France today, to lead the Capoeira group in Champaign-Urbana. In recognition of his mastery and dedication, he was accepted in 2013 by the renowned Mestre Joao Grande to be part of his International Capoeira Angola Center network based in New York City. Drawing from an illustrious lineage of Afro-Brazilian teachers and traditions, Denis takes great pride in furthering Mestre Joao Grande’s mission to share Capoeira Angola with the world. To this end, Denis leads the Capoeira Angola Center – Illinois, as well as the Capoeira Club at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Because of his reputation as a skilled instructor and innovator in the art of Capoeira, he has been invited to lead workshops across the country and around the world, in Israel, Serbia, Italy,Spain, Finland, Germany, England, France, Japan, Chile, and Mexico, Brazil (Sao Paulo,Rio de Janeiro,Ceara,Salvador-Bahia,Ilheus-Bahia,Belem do Para,Acre,Minas Gerais,Santa Catarina), many times accompanying Mestre João Grande with his workshops.

Denis has been a Visiting Lecturer and Capoeira Instructor in the Department of Dance at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign since 2004. He is also the Registered Student Organization faculty advisor for the UIUC Capoeira Club, which has hosted close to thirty International Capoeira Conferences on the UIUC campus, bringing teachers and students together from around the globe. In the course of his many years of practice and teaching Denis has been awarded numerous grants, most recently, in 2016-17 to collaborate with the Urbana Public Schools’ implementation of Capoeira in a school program for middle school-age students. Here, as well as at his academy, Denis is developing a unique and effective method for teaching Capoeira Angola to diverse populations, incorporating thoughtful approaches that integrate students 3-80 years of age from all walks of life.

In the fall of 2017 Denis received he’s Contra-Mestre of Capoeira Angola title from Mestre Joao Grande,it was an honor for Denis receive this title from Mestre Joao Grande hands.


Contact Us

Email: angolacenterillinois @ gmail. com.
Phone: 217.721.0887

The Capoeira Angola Center is located in Downtown Urbana at 201 Lincoln Sq, Urbana, IL 61801 Space 157 ( North Entrance)

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