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Our Executive

The powerhouse behind decisions and operations


Susie Smith (SambaSooz)

CEO/Public Officer

 Susie has been teaching and performing for over 20+ years  and is the disciple of the late great Mestre Jose Prates (who brought samba and salsa to Australia and trained all the first teachers and performers). She’s a masters qualified Social Ecologist, specialist in film making and parade making thanks to a Degree in Theatre/Media and now doing her PHD in education. Her philosophy those that do the work, will find that deep connective base back to technique and spirit.


Contra Mestre Loki

Deputy CEO / Vice Chair

Loki is a bridge between multiple worlds, the afro Brazilian religious practices, dance, capoeira and music. Contra Mestre Loki runs the group Capoeira Educators Australia and regularly trains and helps other afro Brazilian art teachers on how to culturally appreciate rather than appropriate. 


Julio Cesar


Devotee and self confessed Samba Nerd, Julio joins us as our first ever Treasurer of our New National Charitable Cultural Organisation with a solid history of financial management in sporting events and community associations. He has a Masters of Business Administration and is working on his CPA accreditation. Julio completed his first Brazilian Trip in 2020, for Rio Carnaval with Talita Fontanha, after decades of training and preparing, and then joined the Umbela Mentorship program with Marco Bezerra dance school in Rio. He’s a Malandro style devotee and a pioneer and passionate supporter of men’s Samba and drumming for dancers. He’s also a supporter of everyone’s events, projects and shows.

Our Directors

Strong section leads and reality checks on our charitable cultural model

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Mestre Val

Cultural Director

Mestre Val founded Capoeira Filhos da Bahia in Salvador, Bahia BRAZIL in 1983. 10 years later, Mestre Val (Edval Santos) moved to Australia as the Head of the Capoeira Filhos da Bahia – International Group.

Mestre Val has more than 43 years of training & dedication to Capoeira. An inspired Martial Artist, his skill is matched by few. For 36 years, he has traveled to over 57 countries around the World to perform & teach Capoeira.

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Jen Howarth

Director Education & Engagement

Jen joins us with a background of decades in dance and dance administration, teaching and performing. She also has a cert IV in dance and learning and assessment. She is a (Founding) Umbela Director - returning after parenting leave. 

Jen has extensive experience in policy, procurement, governance, and educational systems. Jen also has experience in cultural appreciation training and education, with her Maori leadership background.

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Silvi Pereira

Operations Director

A Brazilian dance choreographer, instructor, performer and longest serving Director,  based in Adelaide, South Australia. She has been educating and promoting Brazilian culture, dance, and music for over 20 years. Silvi co-founded Danca Brazil Dance Academy in Adelaide in 2006, and has fostered a generation of emerging Samba artists out of her tuition. 


Gianne Abbott

Creative Director

Teacher. Performer. Educator. Choreographer and custodian of culture. Gianne leads Afro Diaspora educational and film projects in Brazil, Asia Pacific and Australia. 

Staff and Volunteers

The heart and soul of our community offerings

Bariah Boa Morte

Baria and Dalia Boa Morte

Senior Instructors

Warrior Women, Capoeiristas, Cultural Custodians and Legends. Both Bariah and Dalia have been cultivating culture since Capoeira first arrived in Australia. One, whilst in her mother's tummy. :-)  The Boa Morte Family have fostered teachers, instructors, students and shows across Asia Pacific and have mentored many, including CEO Sambasooz. They produced the first ever cultural show in Australia of the wide array of Afro Brazilian forms. 


Nat Malta

Committee Member - Marketing

Nat has a marketing, media and educational background coming out of Good Morning Brazil, a Brazilian Globo television program. She is also an experienced RTO administrator, and a devotee of all things dance and drumming since her childhood in Rio.

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Florencia Adorno

Committee Member - Community Engagement

Flo is a skilled dancer, drummer and advocate for both community and the arts.  Her former experience running social programs for women to build resilient communities speaks to her passion for community building using celebration, festivals and skills sharing for future proofing against shocks and stresses.


Morgan Ryan

Producer - Community Events - Partner Organisation - Central Coast Music and Arts

Seasoned event professional. Co Lead - Central Coast Music & Arts an incorporated association set up to develop & promote the contemporary music & arts scene in the Central Coast region of NSW, Australia.

Forming during the Covid-19 pandemic in April 2020, the collective brings together a Board of Music Industry & Arts experts (Managers, Promoters, Artists, Lawyers, Label Managers, Publishers, Retail, Producers, Event Managers & Hospitality Professionals) who share the same vision of uniting the music & arts scene with a clear, strategic framework to grow the cultural sector in our region.

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Lou Sawilejskij

Producer - Live Music - Partner Organisation - Nala Music

Passionate music artist manager, tour manager, booker and promoter based in Gosford, on the NSW Central Coast.
Over the past 10 years, she has worked in venue management, artist management (7 years), tour management, events, bookings (events
and artists), promotions, stage management and festival work.  Louise has a special interest in sustainability and has activelybeen working on making the Australian music industry more sustainable.

Louise is passionate about supporting growth and fostering the arts,
especially within her local Central Coast region, and mentoring local
upcoming acts where possible. Recently assisting in the launch and
growth of Central Coast Music, established by local Central Coast
music industry, and spearheaded by Greg Carey. Louise looks forward to helping further establish Central Coast Music and grow the arts here.

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