Master Mariano Silva

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"If you can walk, then you can dance" is his motto. And dance he does. He's danced his way from Bahia Brazil into the hearts of some of Santa Barbara's physically, mentally and emotionally challenged youth and young adults.

While the saying “a jack of all trades and a master of none” may hold true for many people, Mestre Marcos Mariano Silva contradicts this belief simply with his lifestyle and passion for practicing and teaching dance as well as the Brazilian martial art, Capoeira.

“It’s in my soul,” he says. “It has nothing to do with color or race. You don’t need technique to dance with me.”

For most of his life Mestre Mariano has danced and has also been a student of Capoeira. Mariano first began his journey of becoming a community activist and cultural leader in his own back yard. His outreach programs, which include but are not limited to, his founding of Grupo de Capoeira Angola Renascer, benefited and inspired underprivileged children in Brazil.

His diligence as a capoeirista and commitment to his community earned Marcos Mariano the respect and recognition of renowned Master Amen Santo, who invited Mariano to tour with the world-traveling Ballet Folclorico Do Brazil.

After performing to sold-out crowds, being so impressed with Mariano’s abilities and warm personality, Master Amen extended his invitation to Mariano and encouraged the development of a Capoeira and Afro-Brazilian dance school in Southern California.

Today Mestre Mariano has more than is contagious smile and laugh to show for the planting of Mestre Amen’s seed of encouragement. He owns the successful Brazilian Cultural Arts Center of Santa Barbara and Capoeira Batuque since 2001. His workshops include classes for children and adults of all ages. Every now and then you may even spot a three or four year-old showing the adults a thing or two.

He continues to be a pillar for underprivileged youth by spearheading almost two-dozen dance and Capoeira workshops and community projects, which includes his 2001 Devereux project, where he taught developmentally disabled children, as well as the 2001 Isla Vista Youth Project.

Most recently Mariano’s community outreach has benefited a growing California population of obese children with diabetes. He not only teaches these children the nutritional and physical value of exercise but also encourages self-worth and self-esteem to a population of kids who might not otherwise have motivation to practice healthy lifestyles. You can either catch him in his studio or in a classroom full of Santa Barbara Jr. High students.

As Bob Marley said, “Education is the key”; Marcos Mariano Silva lives it. He nurtures the body, mind, heart and spirit by enlightening and sharing the origins of the dances and Capoeira customs, which are deeply rooted in the African cultures of the millions of slaves brought to Brazil during the Triangular Slave Trade. The history of Brazil lives through him. He is the oral tradition we only read about.