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About Us

 Rastros no Ar, is Brazilian Portuguese for ‘Footprints in the Air’ and reflects both the practical aspects of our capoeira and dance practice which see participants turning, twisting, jumping and flying through 360° of space and the body, as well as our ethos which believes in supporting and developing individuals and groups to reach their potential, not only physically, but personally and socially. See our values  below to find out more about what is important to us in our work.

 The aim of Rastros no Ar is to share our art forms with communities and participants from all walks of life; from regular adult and children’s classes, to after-school clubs and performance workshops, from community carnival projects to outreach work with young people in difficulty. As a social enterprise, all our profits will be ploughed back into community projects offering unique opportunities for personal and community development.

Below are Our Values which are integral to all the work we do. Share them?  Then get in touch to see how we can work together in the future!

RESPECT is about doing the work we do with humility. About defending and promoting the rights of individuals and communities, providing opportunities for engagement and always communicating clearly and honestly. We will respect our own skills and professional and personal development as well as those of the people we work with.

COMMUNITY for us is about integration, friendship and support. We will work towards developing physically and mentally healthy communities and be committed to using our creative skills to share with and to nurture individuals and their communities. Where we have more, we will help those with less.

ACHIEVE is about drive and the belief in the power of capoeira and dance to transform the way we view ourselves and others. We will always work hard to reach our potential and inspire the discovery of potential in those we work with. We will advocate and defend the rights of dancers and capoeiristas and continue spreading and sharing these cultures. We will always give the best of ourselves in order to achieve the greatest results to the highest of standards.

PASSION drives us. Capoeira and dance mean the world to us and our desire to share our passions with others will drive our work and our lives. We will live creative lives and value our own expression and that of others. We will travel and work with people who share our belief that capoeira and dance help us to better understand ourselves and the world we live in. Our passion will lead us on the pathway to our dreams and Rastros no Ar (‘footprints in the sky’) and the people it touches will be legacy of the journey…

 Rastros no Ar are Rafael Braga Araujo a.k.a ‘Contra-Mestre Piolho’ and Jane McLean a.k.a ‘Moranguinho’

Rafael Braga Araujo – Contra-Mestre Piolho

A young skinny Rafael spent his childhood growing up in the small Brazilian town of Patos de Minas. He was a hardworking young man who started to make his own money at the age of eight, selling ice lollies off a little cart for his neighbour! Ice lollies were followed by candyfloss then tangerines! Yet this hardworking spirit never seemed to make it through the school gates… Rafael found it difficult to engage with school, he was restless.

One spring day he passed in front of the local church hall and something caught his eye, they were playing capoeira. Being Brazilian born and bred he knew about capoeira of course, but he decided he wanted to know capoeira, at so, at the age of nine his capoeira journey began. His weedy size and remarkable ability for jumping and later acrobatics earned him the nickname of Piolho – the Portuguese word for flea! Since the beginning he has been taught and mentored by his MestreChicote’, (which means ‘whip’ – very fitting, he has certaintly whipped Piolho and many others into shape over the years!)

He had found his passion. He spent every free moment training capoeira, where school was uninspiring and he was unengaged, capoeira motivated and drove him, taught him self discipline and respect. Capoeira was to be and still is his education and he’s proud of it!

His desire to share capoeira and help inspire others started early; at the age of 14 he started giving free classes for children from difficult homes. Despite being in tricky circumstances himself, with Mestre Chicote he travelled Brazil to learn more about capoeira and met many inspiring people and made many friends along the way, often having to hitchhike to get to the next event!

Mestre Chicote was soon to leave for pastures new, passing by the USA on the way to Paris, France. And so, after ten years of training and dedication, at the age of nineteen Piolho received the invitation of a lifetime, to go and start a new life working with capoeira in Paris. After four years in Paris teaching children and adults, being invited to teach at events throughout Europe, Israel, Russia and beyond and making many lifelong friends, Piolho moved to the French city of Tours where he continued to develop his own group and students. He taught in Primary schools, holiday camps and the city University as well as running regular classes for children and adults, organising performances and a special performance to celebrate France’s National Music Day (21st June). Highlights of his work in Tours were founding and directing the first two editions of the international capoeira event ‘Festival Balanço na Ginga’  (October 2009 and 2010) each of which welcomed over 100 students and teachers from France, England, Spain, Israel, Russia, Italy, Germany, the USA and Brazil. He was the lead choreographer for the show for this event which included Capoeira, Maculêlê, Samba, Afro-brazilian dance and contemporary dance.

Through capoeira he also found love! Since 2008 Piolho and Jane have been building their life and their work together, sharing their passion for capoeira and travelling together as far afield as India where they worked with a group of children and young in the Bainganwadi slum of Mumbai as part of the CAti-patang-POEIRA project.

The autumn of 2011 saw them make the move to Jane’s home town of Manchester, where they began working on the Rastros no Ar social enterprise; Piolho’s aim is to inspire a new generation of capoeira, one that open to all.

In January 2012, in the heat of Bahia, Brazil, he achieved a very special graduation in Capoeira in front of the most distinguished Mestres and teachers and is now very proud to be Contra-Mestre Piolho!

Jane McLean – (Moranguinho)

Jane’s dancing career started at the age of 4… performing for her mum and dad in the living room! Since that young age she has always loved performing, the context may be different and the experience more sophisticated but the gut feeling is the same!

A dancing childhood was followed by an A Level in Dance during which, whilst watching a Ballet Boyz performance at the Lowry, the ‘This is it, this is what I want to do with my life’ moment came! From there, despite some hesitations along the way, she decided to study Dance at The University of Chester. The three years were time for artistic exploration, questioning and for delving deep into the worlds of contemporary dance and performance, community dance and participatory practice.  During the three years she made regular trips to London and around the UK to participate in workshops notably at Laban and The Place; at The Place she found capoeira through workshops with Mestre Poncianinho and in Laban she found inspiration and the desire to push her technical training further.

Meanwhile at the University of Chester, 2nd year was coming to a close, and with it Jane had the opportunity of doing a six week placement with Cheshire Dance. From there, her desire to work in the participatory arts sector was born and she continued to teach for Cheshire Dance during her third year of university. This same third year was when she discovered capoeira in Manchester, spending one year training with Contra-Mestre Parente and making many new friends with whom she travelled to capoeira events in Nottingham, Liverpool and Austria amongst others.

Following university she studied for one year at the renowned Trinity Laban Conservatoire for Music and Contemporary Dance and continued to work there as a graduate assistant whilst also teaching extensively to children and young people in schools and community settings as well teaching capoeira skills, floor-work and improvisation techniques for dancers and dance workshops especially developed for capoeiristas. She has taught dance and capoeira at international capoeira festivals in Paris: ‘Rasteira Malandra’ (an event celebrating the participation and skills of women in capoeira) and ‘Passo ao Frente’.

She has performed as a freelancer in for Freefall, and choreographed and performed in France and England with Piolho and with White Flag Dance Company (who’s piece ‘Disregarding Gaze‘ was nominated for the Turn Prize in 2010 ) as well as performed in numerous capoeira performances in France and England.

Through Capoeira she met Piolho and moved to France in 2010! She continued to dance and teach whilst also working as the Ambassadress for Wigan (yes, that job exists!) in it’s twin town of Angers where she worked extensively in schools and colleges and developed her project management and French language skills as well as having the opportunity to be involved in ‘Schools’, a meeting of international Contemporary dance and arts institutions at the ‘Centre National de Danse Contemporaine’ in Angers.

Now back in the North-West and developing Rastros no Ar with Piolho, Jane’s aim is to inspire people from all walks of life to take part  and fall in love with capoeira and contemporary dance which she believes can help people to live happier, creative, more confident lives…