The NC Brazilian Arts Project team consists of many talented artists from various backgrounds and specialties. Our goal is to continue to educate ourselves and our community in the joy that is Brazilian culture.


Adriana Blanco - Director

Adriana Blanco - Director

Adriana's purpose is to deepen and share her knowledge, love of body awareness and art through movement via the practice of: Yoga, Capoeira and Samba. Adriana has been teaching yoga, dance and movement since 2009 and has been training, traveling to Brazil and involved in the Capoeira community since 2006. Adriana has over 500 hours of teacher training from Yoga Works, Street Yoga and Thousand Petals Yoga, (Sommer and Paul Sobin). Adriana is a pre-monitora level with Cordão de Ouro, under the leadership of Mestre Esquilo and Contra-Mestre Zumbi. Adriana previously studied Capoeira and belonged to the group, Capoeira Malês led by Mestre Curisco and Contra-Mestre Morcego. Adriana is currently mentored by Nubia Quele Santos from Casa Brasilia and Samba Internacional for her study of Samba no Pe and by Janete Silva from Silva Dance Company for her study of Samba-Afro.

Adriana has studied under master Samba and Afro-Brazilian dancers ranging from Bahia-Brazil, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil, Minas Gerais - Brazil, NYC, Washington DC and North Carolina. These teachers include, Sonia Pessoa, Janete Silva – Silva Dance Company, Nubia Quele Santos – Casa Brasilia, Vera Passos, Rosangela Silvestsre, Saysha Jay- Rio Projekt, Tatiana Campelô – CampelôAfroDance, Vania Oliveira and Iya Silva – Movimentos de Samba. She has also taken classes and workshops with Danielle Lima, Quenia Ribeiro – Grupo Ribeiro, Aninha Malandro –Samba N Motion, Nem Britto – from Salvador, Brazil, Marcelo Chocolate and Egili Oliveira.

Adriana has completed Level 2 of the Silvestre Technique, led by director Rosangela Silvestre and artistic director, Vera Passos. (Modern dance/Afro-Brazilian Symbology), in 2018 in Salvador Brazil. Adriana was selected to parade with a “Grupo Especial” Samba School, “Imeperio Serrano” in 2018 in Rio De Janeiro and with a “Grupo A” Samba School, “Acadêmicos da Rocinha”. Adriana completed the Samba Internacional tour and training in Rio de Janeiro and studied with the following teachers: Carlinhos do Salgueiro, Evelyn Bastos, Gabriel Castro and Uillana Adães.

Adriana’s passion for learning more about dance, Capoeira and Afro-Brazilian culture has led her to co-found the NC Brazilian Arts Project. Adriana is also co-owner, choreographer and dancer in the company. The NC Brazilian Arts Project’s mission is to promote and enrich the North Carolina arts community with Brazilian movement forms such as Samba, Afro-Brazilian Dance, Capoeira, Maculelê and percussion by offering classes, performances and bringing master teachers for instruction. The NC BAP hopes to promote cultural exchange and joy while simultaneously increasing it’s own knowledge and understanding of Afro-Brazilian Art forms.

Adriana is also an actively practicing licensed clinical social worker, (LCSW), and treats mental health diagnoses using evidenced based interventions including mindfulness and Yoga.

Juan Pablo Blanco - Director

Juan Pablo Blanco - Director

Juan Pablo initiated his athletic career as a child in Venezuela playing competitive basketball. After graduating high school, Juan Pablo became involved in training martial arts such as Capoeira, (an Afro-Brazilian martial art), Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and professional mixed martial arts. Juan has fought in professional mixed martial arts competions in Venezuela starting in 2013.

Juan is currently a Capoeira instructor and an experienced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor, including several championship wins. Aside from his successful career in martial arts, Juan Pablo has worked as a trainer throughout and is also a masters level licensed physical therapist in South America with over 6 years of professional experience. 

Juan Pablo enjoys working with people to help them meet their fitness and athletic goals. Juan Pablo has studied and trained his martial arts all over Brazil and the United States and has trained with masters such as: Lucas Lepri, Cobrinha from Alliance Jiu Jitsu and currently studies with Mestre Esquilo/Bruno Melo and Contra Mestre Zumbi/Aristides Valeriano from the International Capoeira School, Cordao de Ouro. Previously, Juan Pablo was a student of Mestre Amendoim from Grupo Senzala and also trained with Professor Carlos Plat/Canuto, Professor Yeison Delgado/Mowgly and Mestre Emerson Domingues/Rasta. 

Buda - Jack of all trades, master of some

Buda (Steven John Danan) - jack of all trades, master of some

Steven John Danan, better known as “Buda” is a chef, musician, martial artist, and dancer.  A second generation Filipino-American and Chicago native, Buda has been studying and expressing himself creatively through music, movement, and the arts since a very young age.

Buda moved to Charlotte 4 years ago and has primarily been working with Capoeira and Samba, Afro-Brazilian art forms. He has collaborated on projects with  Rachel Barker, Eric Mullis, Reba Bowens and Adriana Blanco, Buda has travelled the country and various parts of the world for capoeira and samba.

In addition, Buda was a practicioner of various martial arts including Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai boxing, Kali, jiu jitsu and wrestling. In music, Buda is a classically trained cellist, a self taught multi-instrumentalist and percussionist.

He is currently studying under master percussionist, Luciano Xavier, of Bahia Brazil, trains and studies Samba with Adriana Blanco and the NC Brazilian Arts Project, Buda is mentored by the famous samba dancer, teacher, singer and musician, Dill Costa in Chicago. Buda started capoeira under Mestre Marisa of Gingarte Capoeira in Chicago in 2000 and now trains with the International Capoeira School in Charlotte, under Mestre Esquilo, taught by Contra-Mestre Zumbi.

Buda is a percussionist, capoeirista, and dancer with the NC Brazilian Arts Project and has been since its founding. He hopes to continuing sharing his passions and all the joy that is Brazilian culture and art with the world.

Sasha Lara - Dancer

Sasha Lara - Dancer

Sasha is a dancer/model/entertainer with over 14 yrs of experience under her belt.

She has gogo danced at many major night clubs and dance events in the Queen City for over 8 yrs, has trained and danced latin dancing in different states with known salsa and bachata professionals.

Sasha loves dressing up in fun wild costumes and also does advertising for different companies and events as her alter ego Señorita Fierce a colorful and spunky roller skater.

She has been with NCBAP for two years and is honored to share the magic and joy of Brazilian culture with the Charlotte community. 

Cristal Chinchayán - Assistant Director

Cristal Chinchayán - Assistant Director

Cristal’s dancing takes her all the way back when she was growing up in Peru. Born and raised in Trujillo, Peru she was placed into dance academies like Instituto Nacional de Cultura to learn Peruvian folklore like Marinera Norteña and ballet at a very early age.

As a teen she has always been part of the modern dance teams of her school, winning regional competitions both in the U.S and in Trujillo, Peru. She also choreographed for other school performances and got accepted into professional dance company “Fina Estampa” founded and directed by Guinness world record holder, eight-time Marinera champion of champions Mary-Carmen Olórtegui. While in the group, she trained and learned many styles of Peruvian folklore including Afro-Peruvian, Marinera Norteña, and Huaylarsh.

In 2002 Cristal moved back to North Carolina and not longer after, started dancing for a non-profit dance group “Corazon Peruano” under director Sonia Alvarado based in Raleigh, NC. She showcased many Peruvian folkloric dances at events while still enhancing her knowledge in Peruvian Folklore by attending workshops and tutorials taught by Marinera champions Alfredo Di Natale and Sonia Porras in Washington D.C.

Since early 2014 Cristal learned Samba under Iyainha Silva. As a student she began performing at various events and local festivals as part of “Movimentos de Samba” dance company. She has also attended classes by Janete Silva Aide and Maisa Duke learning samba nó pe and afro-Brazilian dance. In 2016 NC Brazilian Arts Project was born and has been performing ever since throughout the Carolinas. Like Marinera Norteña which she was taught as a child, she believes them to very close in speed and footwork which has eased in her learning samba nó pe and is fascinated at the similarities and the style in which both share.

In 2018 Cristal along with NCBAP Co-director Adriana got the opportunity to train and attend workshops in Rio de Janeiro taught by 2017 Carnival Queen/Raihna do Carnaval Uillana Adães, “King of Samba” Director of Choreography of Samba School Salgueiro Carlihnos Salgueiro,Raihna do Batucada Da Mangueira Evelyn Bastos and Império Serrano passista director Gabriél Castro. During this time she also participated in 2018 Carnaval de Rio De Janeiro representing Império Serrano and Académicos Da Rocinha Samba schools in the International Alas.

Cristal currently trains and continues to improve her technique under samba coach and passista Nubia Quele Santos. She aims to represent and dance Brazilian samba in the most traditional form possible while continuing to develop her style, increase her experience and growth.

Although samba is her main passion you can also expect to see her practice other forms ofdance including Brazilian Zouk and Sensual Bachata.

Jenny Geska - Director

Jenny Geska - Director

Jenny Geska, current owner of Aura Dance Studio and Triangle Dancers, and director for the Raleigh/Durham branch of the NC Brazilian Arts Project,  has over 20 years of technical dance and ballroom training, and brings over 10 years of professional performance, teaching, and choreography experience to her dance studio.  She is also one of two organizers and promoters for BailaCura, an annual non-profit congress and festival in Raleigh that donates all of it's profits to help fund children's cancer research.