What’s On pals Hype meet Fernando Dias de Luz, a capoeira instructor in Dubai. Find out the history of capoeira and where to learn capoeira in Dubai.

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Where are you from? I’m Brazilian.

When did you come to Dubai? In February 2012.

What do you do here? I teach capoeira at a couple of places around Dubai – Team Nogueira Dubai, Tempo Dance Centre and HM Fitness Centre.

What is capoeira? Capoeira is dancing and fighting at the same time: it can be theatre or acrobatics, or even a tool for fitness. Capoeira is magic and it can be different things for different people. It all depends on what you make of it.

Where did it start? It started in Brazil in the 16th century by the descendants of African slaves, and was very influenced by the Brazilian natives.

Where is it most popular? It’s most popular in Brazil. But it’s practised in more than 100 countries, and its popularity is growing very fast.

How did you get into it? I was 13 when I first went to watch it with my brother. What attracted me to it was that I realised that, regardless of race or religion or whether you’re rich or poor, everyone’s equal inside the capoeira circle.

How long have you been teaching it? I’ve taught capoeira for 12 years. Ever since I started, I’ve known that this art, this fascinating mix of elements from the Afro-Brazilian culture, would lead me to a life dedicated to this discipline. I came to Dubai on a mission to popularise capoeira, and I see myself as an ambassador. The best way to do this is to introduce it at school level, which will help capoeira have a more permanent position in the UAE. Take jiu-jitsu as an example: no-one knew about it a few years ago, but after it got support from the UAE government, it’s become really popular here.

How do you promote capoeira? Since arriving in Dubai, I’ve had invitations to shows and workshops, which has helped me promote capoeira all over the UAE.

What are its main benefits? It promotes fitness and health by increasing strength, flexibility and endurance. It encourages social skills through group exercises and performances, inspires self-expression, and promotes awareness of the Brazilian culture.

Do you need to be naturally flexible to master it? The creator of the regional style of capoeira, Mestre Bimba, once said that to be a good capoeira player, you can’t be too hard or too flexible. Flexibility’s just one of the benefits that capoeira offers.

It looks amazing – but difficult… In capoeira you learn to break your limits, and get better at each class you attend.

Are there capoeira competitions? Yes, there are Regional and World Capoeira Championships. Our school was the first team to ever represent the UAE in the World Championships last year, in Azerbaijan, and we came sixth out of 43 countries.

Congratulations, that’s amazing! How often do you train? It’s simple, really; the more you train, the better you will be. I try to train every day, if I have enough time.

What advice would you give a new student? Everyone has their own unique style. Just find a good coach and enjoy it.

First impressions of Dubai? I thought Dubai had great potential to grow in every way, and I’ve been proven right again and again.

Favourite place to eat locally? Any restaurant that serves organic food. I believe you become more spiritual when you look within yourself and look after yourself, and eating fresh food is part of that.

Favourite place to catch up with friends? Fruteiro do Brasil, in JBR.

Favourite club or music event? The full moon desert drumming sessions by Dubai Drums.

Favourite international DJ or band? DJ Maga Bo – he’s from Brazil.

Favourite Dubai-based DJ or band? Dubai Drums.

What do you do when you need some ‘me’ time? I go into the desert, sit on the sand dunes, and play some music on my berimbau – a Brazilian musical instrument.

What’s the secret to success here? Hard work.

What’s your top tip for getting the most out of Dubai? Never become a slave to money, and admire every magical sunset.

Find our more about capoeira in Dubai at infocapoeira.com

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