Donald Coley, also known as Bengala, is a capoeira mestre (master) who has been training, performing and teaching capoeira for over 25 years. Because he was already in his mid thirties when he started training, he thought that he would just try it out for a little while, and then quit when it got too hard. He soon discovered that the mystery, challenge and the variety that the art form offered made it irresistible. Donald became a member of the second generation of capoeira students in California when he enrolled in classes with mestre Marcelo (founder of Capoeira Mandinga) in 1985. His interest in all things Brazilian grew over the years and he was able to participate in a number of special workshops and events both in the United States and in Brazil. Some examples are: Origins of Samba Workshops (taught by master dance and percussion instructors in Salvador, Brazil) Capoeirando (a weeklong capoeira event in Brazil) Criança Esperança (a seminar for teachers who work with children).
For almost ten years Donald served as an officer on the Board ofDirectors of the nonprofit Capoeira Institute. He has also conducted workshops at capoeira events in San Francisco, Rochester, Detroit, Tucson and Auckland, New Zealand. He loves to share the art with students at all levels from beginners to advanced. In capoeira, there is always something new to learn. Much of Donald’s noncapoeira time is spent sorting the many photos that he takes at events and deciding which ones are Facebook worthy.