Mestre Steen

Mestre Steen is the founder and head of the Capoeiraskolen Senzala. He is a specialist in Afro-Brazilian music and movement culture. As a professional capoeirista, dancer and musician, he has more than 30 years of experience as a performing artist, leader and teacher at home and abroad, as well as years of experience as an organizer of large international capoeira festivals and cultural trips to Brazil.

In 2011, he was the first European to graduate Mestre de Capoeira in Rio de Janeiro.

My capoeira journey - by Mestre Steen

Silent, with the agility and primal power of a tiger, Mestre Peixinho and Mestre Toni slowly began their beautiful acrobatic dance. With perfect timing in time and space, they let it grow, into an explosion of spinning kicks that left me with an eternal deep addiction for more.

The year was 1987, when I was blown away by capoeira for the first time. The charismatic masters on the Europe trip had one day to visit my first capoeira and samba dance teacher, Ana Pompeia. It all unfolded in a completely normal everyday lesson, and shows the importance of presence in the fleetingness of life, as landmark experiences like this are few and far between in a long life.

Throughout my teenage years and into my adult life, from 1984-1993, Ana and the musician Michael Aabye, passionately and with great love, opened my world to the Afro-Brazilian culture in our samba school Kolibri, where I also met the love of my life in 1987, Joy. Sophia, our daughter, who was born during Kolibri's last carnival parade in Sweden, is a very beautiful, dancing result of this time.

Michael Aabye & Ana Pompeia

My passion for martial arts was, like so many others from my generation, awakened by a Bruce Lee film in the local cinema where I lived.

It turned into an important educational journey in Asian culture, and a black belt in Taekwondo, where in the years 1984-1990 I was lucky enough to train under the then national coach and grandmaster, Ko Tae Jeong, in Nørrebro Taekwondo Club. Here I also got my first experiences as a teacher, as an assistant coach on the children's team.

With a training as a physical education teacher from the Paul Petersen Sports Institute in my luggage, I went out into the world and in 1990 was able to celebrate my 20th birthday in Rio de Janeiro, where I lived for 6 months.

I played in the orchestra of the samba school Acadêmicos da Rocinha, and took part in that year's carnival, and I took private lessons in samba gafiera (couple dance) from the then queen of "Danca de salão", Maria Antonieta.

However, capoeira was my main focus and my addiction. After 6 months of intensive training with Mestre Peixinho, I became his student, and returned to Copenhagen as a white belt, and founded the Capoeiraskolen Senzala.

In the following 20 years we developed a close family relationship. He was an essential sparring partner in the development of the Capoeiraskolen Senzala in Denmark as well as Serbia. The first many trips for my students to Brazil, until his death, were a joint project, just as we shared the vision of creating a Scandinavian Capoeira meeting.

There were many, unforgettable master teacher experiences. The learning from translating his teaching, from Portuguese to Danish and English, at workshops in Denmark and the rest of Europe, was unique.

As I had to pass on his incredible knowledge and advanced techniques, again and again, it gave me a unique opportunity to understand him and the material, down to the smallest detail.

His death in 2011 was a huge sadness for my family and myself. It took me many years before I found my footing again in capoeira. A week after his death, I got a call from his lifelong friend, Mestre Gato, who told me that Mestre Peixinho, in his last hours, nominated me for red belt, and thus the title of Mestre, at a long-planned capoeira ceremony a few months later.

Formatura, as it is called, is the best you can achieve as a capoeirista, and the road to it had taken me 27 years. Mestre Toni and Mestre Ramos did everything to make it a good experience, even though they themselves, as his oldest students and close friends, were in deep sorrow.

Since it came so suddenly, I had to leave for Rio de Janeiro without my family. My formatura was therefore one of the most difficult and contradictory things I have ever experienced. I am forever deeply grateful for the incredible, loving gesture - that my master, friend and grandfather to my children, thought of me in his last hours. That we managed to make a complete circle together, a "volta do mundo", from white to red belt. The first European capoeira master. The Dane Steen Møller, formado by Mestre Peixinho, Grupo Senzala in 2011.

Mestre Steen modtager sit diplom.

Up through the 90s, together with Michael Aabye, Hvidovre Samba School for children and young people, I created a fantastic time when I was responsible for the samba dance, maculele and capoeira. My oldest capoeira students, Benjamin and Pelle, started their capoeira journey in Hvidovre Samba School, as 12- and 6-year-olds more than 30 years ago. Throughout the last 20 years, they have been strong pillars of the Capoeira School Senzala, with responsibility for their own departments.

In 2019 I could proudly graduate them Mestre de Capoeira, for a beautiful ceremony in our capoeira house, Ilé de seu Peixinho, in Rio de Janeiro.

At the same time as the Capoeiraskolen Senzala grew bigger and my adventure with building the Capoeiraskolen Senzala in Serbia had started, I felt the need to improve my skills as a teacher and manager. The desire and need for a deeper understanding of myself, and the world in general, sprouted forth. I therefore began training as a physical therapist in 2001.

It turned into a fantastic 20-year journey of studies, at home and abroad, with Vivian Person and Stephano Sabetti. Today I am an examined physical therapist: L.E.P., Group leader in Dansergia (dance therapy), and practitioner in Process Inquiry (communication technique for counselling, coaching and supervision) as well as practitioner in Heartfullness.

Vivian Persson & Stephano Sabetti.

My capoeira addiction, a well-known phenomenon among capoeiristas worldwide, has infected thousands of children and adults over the years. I am filled daily with joy and pride to be able to follow their capoeira journey. Some are only mildly affected and quickly disappear again, while others, like me, are chronically affected, and today I also have the great pleasure of teaching some of my students' children.

The Capoeiraskolen Senzala and my life is a vision, a family adventure on a journey, fostered with work discipline, and grounded in the love of capoeira and the Brazilian culture. It is in constant development and is realized through an unbreakable collaboration with my mother, my wife, our children and a number of fantastic people close to us.

I look forward to seeing what capoeira brings us in the future.