Pittsburgh Artist Registry

Nego Gato Afro Brazilian Music and Dance

Nego Gato Afro Brazilian Music and Dance

Artistic Category artist
Career Level Professional
Experienced With For-hire services, Leading workshops, Performances, Teaching engagements

 The Nego Gato African Brazilian Music and Dance Ensemble brings to their audiences the living history of Africans brought to Brazil during the period of the slave trade through the music and dance that has survived for over 500 years.  The mission of Nego Gato, Inc. is to empower and enrich the world community through performance, education and employment in African-Brazilian arts of music, dance and Capoeira.   The organization is built upon thirty years of work in the Arfican’Brazilian arts by Jose Sena, known professionally as Nego Gato (Black Cat), from which the organization takes its incorporated name. Mr. Sena was born in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, often called the “Africa of the Americas”. Because Mr. Sena was able to use the art of capoeira – the native Brazilian martial arts practice which evolved into a ritualized competitive dance format – to propel himself from poverty into performance halls throughout South America, Europe, Japan and finally the United States, the role of the arts, and capoeira in particular, as a transformational power in people’s lives became central to the vision of Nego Gato, Inc. and the role it plays in the community.    The director of the Company, Jose Sena grew up immersed in the sounds of Carnaval, Candomble Spirituality and the street music of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Join us for an exciting, energetic, elaborately costumed, engaging evening that will have you dancing in the aisles. Take a trip and experience the authenticity of the energy, vibrancy and magic of Bahia, Brazil.




Jose Sena (Nego Gato) is Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of Nego Gato Inc. a Pittsburgh based organization. He is a Master Capoeirista, Composer, Choreographer, Percussionist, Vocalist and Dancer. He was born into a spiritual house of African Brazilian tradition. He has served as a consultant with status of Master Folklorist of African Brazilian Heritage to Lisangua Ya Bato Drum and Dance and the Oliveros Foundation for their production of Nzinga, the Queen King. He has been performing professionally since the age of 10. Since coming to the United States in 1984 he has presented performances and residencies in primary and secondary schools and cultural institutions throughout the US, Europe and Japan.  He formed the Nego Gato Afro Brazilian Music and Dance Ensemble to share with audiences the rich history of his diverse culture and ancestry.



Artistic Director Jose Sena (Mestre Nego Gato) makes the artistic decisions for the organization based upon the vision and mission of the organization. The music and dance presented is traditional folkloric and requires specialists in the field, particularly the martial art of Capoeira.  All of our disciplines require years of training and most of our members who are African Brazilian grew up in this culture and are experts in their field.


            “I was born into a spiritual house of African Brazilian tradition.  In Brazil this spirituality is known as Candomble and has it’s roots in Congo-Angola, Benin, Togo and Nigeria.  My mother was a Mae de Santos (Mother of Saints) and danced for the spirits. When I was in my mother’s womb I floated around to these rhythms. As a child I witnessed nightly ceremonies whose memories became the driving force of the dedication of my life to my ancestral culture. At the age of 7, I began practicing acrobatics off of the stilt bridges that surrounded the houses in my impoverished neighborhood.  I went on to win several gymnastic championships.  I began performing professionally when I was 10 years old and at 16 began to study with various Capoeira Masters including Ze Mario and Vermelho De Pastinha a student of Grand Mestre Pastinha. I firmly believe in The African roots of Capoeira. I made it a priority to research the correct historical information.  I had the Opportunity to go to Lisbon in 1992 as a cast member of a play entitled Nzinga, the queen king who ruled Angola in the 1500’s.  In the Lisbon library I found manuscripts written by missionaries who had witnessed Nzinga”s acrobatics before going into battle with slavers.  I saw documentation that a form of Capoeira was a martial practice from Africa. In 1993 I had the opportunity to be at a conference in California with Dr. Fu Kiau, a Congolese linguist and scholar of Congolese history.  He told me of the Congolese origin of the words Capoeira, Au, Berimbau, Samba, and Maculele. I am deeply proud of what I have accomplished through my dedication, and expertise in my artistry and culture.  I can only hope that my work in every community pays respect to my ancestors and my heritage. “                            








Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15201
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