Our Mission



Our Mission


In March 2005, Tiberio Vieira and Michelle Rae Pinzon founded the Capoeira Center of New York, Inc. (the "Center") and brought together over fifteen years of experience in teaching and training Capoeira and dance. Its foundational philosophy rests upon the three-letter LEG principle: Learn more culture, Exercise and Grow socially.



  • Organize and bring to the community public performances and demonstrations showcasing Capoeira and Afro-Brazilian dance and music

  • Host a graduation ceremony, which includes a new belt or cordão for qualified students


  • Conduct classes for all-level adults and children that focus on capoeira technique, Portuguese language and Afro-Brazilian instruments and music

  • Implement a Masters Workshop series: creative development for all, including students, teachers and  dancers


  • Coordinate capoeira community outreach programs for the youth in greater New York

  • Facilitate cultural exchange programs for American and Brazilian Capoeira students to travel to Brazil for deeper cultural immersion, and for Brazilian students to participate in CCNY programs in New York


Our SuperBoard


Our SuperBoard



Michelle studied dance at New York City’s LaGuardia High School of the Arts and Ballet Hispanico, graduating with a BFA degree in Dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.  She performed nationwide with the Philippine Dance Company of New York, Seventh Principle, and Seed Dance.  She has taught dance and coordinated youth afterschool and summer programs in East Harlem, Flushing, Queens, and Honolulu, Hawaii, for the YMCA and Parents and Children Together.  In East Harlem, she directed the first AmeriCorps afterschool program dedicated to literacy.  In Hawaii, she fundraised over $300,000 for teen employment training programs through a state government grant she wrote.  She began training Capoeira in Honolulu, Hawaii with Capoeira Batuque Hawaii and later joined Capoeira Luanda in 2003.  Under the supervision of Professor Sabiá, she currently teaches Capoeira to children at the Flushing YMCA and is an assistant instructor for the Capoeira Center's teen programs.  In Fall 2013, she began teaching Capoeira as an adjunct professor at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.  In addition to her dedication and commitment to Capoeira and dance, Michelle also obtained a Juris Doctorate at St. John’s University School of Law, graduating cum laude.  She served as a federal law clerk for the honorable Joanna Seybert of the Eastern District of New York, and she worked as a corporate associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom, LLP.  Most recently, she served as in house counsel and compliance officer to a specialty pharmacy services corporation.  She is now spending time to help build the Capoeira Center and bring it to the next level.



Habib is an Executive Director at J.P.Morgan, serving as portfolio manager within the Corporate & Investment Bank group. Prior to joining JPMorgan in September 2015, he was an Executive Director at Emerging Global Advisors (EGA) from 2012 to 2015, in charge of managing up to $1.8bn of emerging markets funds. Habib previously spent 11 years at HSBC Global Asset Management; he started as an equity and derivatives trader and then served as portfolio manager in Paris (France), before moving to New York as a financial engineer developing customized fund solutions for 6 years. Habib holds an M.S. in Statistics Engineering, an M.S. in Quantitative Finance and is a certified Financial Risk Manager (FRM). Habib is also an Adjunct Professor at New York University-SPS in the Finance and Law program. Habib has dedicated his life to art and sports, as a passionate performer and athlete as well as an enthusiast promoter. Citizen of the world, Habib spent his life between his native Benin and France, and now has been living in New York City since 2005. Habib also speaks seven languages.




Karen Pattani-Hason is currently Director of Agency Partnerships for mobile engagement tech pioneer Urban Airship.  Named a Mobile Woman to Watch in 2014 by Mobile Marketer, Karen transitioned to mobile technology after a long career in the entertainment business. After getting her MBA, Karen joined MTV Networks, working on several groundbreaking shows before moving on to RCA Records, BMG Entertainment / Sony Music, and eventually Universal Music's Island Def Jam Records where she led New Media Business Development for the label, whose roster at the time included Jay-Z, Ludacris, LL Cool J, Method Man, Elvis Costello, Slick Rick, Bon Jovi, and many others.  Karen started her career as a banker with JP Morgan Chase before her need for creative disruption took over.  Her passion for Capoeira fits perfectly into her world view. Karen has a BA in Economics and French from Tufts and an MBA in Marketing and Media Management from Columbia Business School.



Taun Toay profile pic.jpg

Taun Toay is Vice President for Enrollment and Strategic Initiatives of Bard College, an innovative liberal arts school in New York State. At Bard, Toay oversees strategic planning and satellite operations throughout the nation and in Germany. An economist by training, Toay also serves as Managing Director of the Levy Economics Institute, where he is a Research Analyst working on macroeconomic modeling and gender-aware analysis. He was a Fulbright research grantee to Greece for 2005–06 and an affiliate of the University of Piraeus, where his work examined the socioeconomic impacts of inflation patterns surrounding the adoption of the euro. Toay has also served as a visiting lecturer in the economics department at Bard College and co-edited/authored a number of papers and books, including The Burden of Our Times: The Intellectual Origins of the Global Financial Crisis. Toay holds an M.Phil. in economics from the New School for Social Research.




Tiberio Vieira, a.k.a. Professor Tiba, has practiced the art of Capoeira for over seventeen years and currently holds the rank of Professor. He began his training with Mestre Jelon Vieira and continues his practice under the supervision of Mestre Jelon.  Since moving to the United States from Brazil in 1997, Professor Tiba has taught classes for children and adults at various venues in New York City including the Alvin Ailey School, Broadway Dance Center, the Training Academy, Saint Anthony's School and the Educational Alliance. He has also taught at Bard College, Annadale-on-Hudson, NY; Dance Connecticut, Hartford, CT; the Cleo Parker Robinson Summer Festival, Denver, CO; Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH; and Capoeira Luanda, Istanbul, Turkey. He has also performed regularly throughout the United States and internationally in Pusan, South Korea at the Pusan Film Festival, as well as in Tokyo, Japan and Toronto, Canada.  In addition, Mr. Vieira has appeared in TNT's "Martial Artists of the 20th Century," the New York Film Academy's "Fascinado Pela Capoeira," the PBS series, "Egg: The Arts Show," GQ Magazine, Free Magazine, LXTV/NBC’s "Spotlight of the Week", Getty Images and a television commercial for Subway Restaurants.  He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Electronic Design and Multimedia from City College of New York.




Jeannie Williams, also known as "Graduada Minnie" in the Capoeira world, has been training capoeira for 9 years.  She currently teaches high school students at Bayside High School, in Queens, New York. She has recently joined the Capoeira Center and will be acting as the Center's Treasurer.