Francisco Antônio Rodrigues da Silva, better known as Mestre Fran, was born on November 7, 1964 in the city of Fortaleza, Ceará, Brasil. He started practicing Capoeira at the age of 10, in São Paulo, Brasil with Ronaldo Luis de Lima, better known as Mestre Bradesco of Grupo de Capoeira Conceição da Praia. Mestre Bradesco was responsible for creating a capoeirista strong in every aspect of the fundamentals. In November of 1982, at the age of 18, he arrived in Londrina, Brasil with the dream to disseminate the art of Capoeira to the southern regions of Brasil.
After many years of hard work in Londrina, Sara, Mestre Fran’s wife and a professor, suggested a trip to Salvador, Bahia. In Salvador he met Dona Alice, Mestre Pastinha’s widow and many other capoeira Mestres like Bobó, Caiçara, and Ezequiel. These old “capoeiristas baianos” (capoeiristas from Bahia) showed Mestre Fran the essence of Capoeira and the art of Maculelê. The beat of the drums and the vibration of the beautiful dance-fight impacted Mestre Fran deeply. Upon his return to Londrina, he decided to take all that he learned in Bahia and create his own group. On November 5, 1991 in the city of Londrina, Brasil, Mestre Fran founded the Associaçao Cultural de Capoeira Maculelê or Capoeira Maculelê Cultural Association. Mestre Fran furthered awareness of Capoeira and his group in Londrina by performing as a part of cultural shows and establishing a program to help impoverished children escape the dangers of the streets. His efforts can be seen in his two successful academies around the city as well as in his academies throughout the world in countries like Portugal, England, and Austria.
Mestre Fran’s plans were formulating well in Londrina but his dreams of spreading Capoeira could not rest. This time, his sights were set on the United States. In December 2002, with the help of Steven Alphabet – former Athletic Director for Georgia State University, Mestre Fran became the first Capoeira Mestre in Atlanta, Georgia. Here in Atlanta, Mestre Fran has orchestrated four Capoeira batizados (or graduations) and has performed at numerous cultural festivals in Piedmont Park, Centennial Olympic Park, and the Underground Atlanta. He has also taught workshops all over the United States as a special guest of Mestres in places like Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Washington D.C., New York, Wisconsin, and New Jersey.
Since 1991, Mestre Fran and Capoeira Maculelê have worked to promote an organization that values all dimensions of the human being, including the physical, moral, and spiritual. He has focused on awakening the talents of his students, elevating the awareness of society, and encouraging the practice of Capoeira as an art, fight, and a means of social, cultural, and athletic integration. Today, anyone would agree that Mestre Fran has succeeded in these endeavors. He has taken his passion and shared it with hundreds, maybe thousands, of people all over the world and, unintentionally, Mestre Fran has created a reputation as one of the greatest Capoeira Mestres ever. Yet as a humble spirit, Mestre Fran would never take the credit. Simply, he would attribute it all to his Mestre, Mestre Bradesco, and to his Mestre’s principles to which he has never forgotten:
To play Capoeira is to understand the history of the people that expressed its fears, dreams, and anxieties of liberty through body movement.