White woman, Holly Sells, in a yellow shirt smiling at the camera.

Holly Sells


Holly Sells, nicknamed Tiririca, started Capoeira at the University of Northern Iowa in 1999. Shortly after her first exposure to Capoeira, she moved to Brazil to train and become proficient in Portuguese. She returned to Iowa, where she was one of the founding supporters of Capoeira in the state. 

Tiririca lived and trained Capoeira in Paris, France, from 2007–2011. She trained and taught alongside her teacher both in clubs and school systems. She has choreographed, performed, taught, and participated in European workshops. 

Tiririca has traveled yearly to Brazil to further her knowledge of Capoeira and Brazilian culture and dance since 1999.

She even competed in Carnival in the samba school Águia de ouro in São Paulo 2011.

In 2011, Tiririca founded Brazilian Beats in Des Moines, IA, and taught classes for both adults and children. Her Capoeira program was a permanent fixture in the Des Moines Public School system from 2011–2021, offering Capoeira classes to students who otherwise do not have an opportunity to explore the arts. 

Tiririca has managed Brazilian cultural booths at festivals, including the Iowa Latino Heritage Festival and the World Food Festival from 2012 – 2022.  Her company, Brazilian Beats,  also did stage performances at these festivals.

She continues to organize Capoeira and Brazilian dance festivals and travels around the United States as a teaching artist and performer at Capoeira master classes and Brazilian culture celebrations. 

She hopes to spark interest, joy, and create cultural connections for others to explore the beauty Brazilian culture has to offer.

2023–24 Session Teaching Roster: Capoeira

Photo by Huey Photography