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The story of an all-female samba reggae drumming group from New York and

a life changing trip to Brazil to  learn from the renowned women of Banda Dida.

A film by Sarah Teale + Carin van der Donk


In 2016 Stacy Kovacs formed Fogo Azul, a female-identified, non-binary and gender non-conforming community drumming band, with just fifteen women. By 2020 they had a 110 members, forming a powerful and loud leadership at resistance marches throughout NYC and beyond, including the Women’s Marches, Black Lives Matter and the Climate March. 

In February, 2020 Stacy took forty-four members of Fogo Azul to Salvador, Brazil to learn more techniques from Banda Dida, the first all-black, all female identified samba reggae drumming group, run by the powerful Adriana Portela. 

Adriana is a Brazilian percussionist from Bahia, who started learning to play drums in 1992 with Maestro Neguinho do Samba, creator of samba-reggae and founder of Olodum, a famous black, samba reggae group that played with and influenced musicians around the world, including Michael Jackson and Paul Simon.

The Brazilian black community were originally not allowed to drum in Carnivale and women were not allowed to drum at all until Adriana persuaded do Samba to teach her and to create Banda Dida. She became the first woman to conduct a samba-reggae band in Brazil and Didá has played with national and international music celebrities, including Shakira and in music festivals around the world. Adriana has always seen music as the driving force for social change and as a tool capable of crossing boundaries enabling the knowledge of diverse cultures. 

Our short documentary profiles a few of the members from Fogo Azul and Banda Dida as the American women arrive in Salvador to learn from the women of Dida and get ready to play at Carnivale.

Our film explores the power of music, and drumming in particular, to transform lives and to empower members in both Brazil and the United States.


Meet the Drummers


Meet the Team


Sarah Teale

  • Sarah Teale's Website

Sarah Teale (Producer /Director) was a Producer/Director of Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections which aired on HBO on March 26th, 2020. She was a Producer on the HBO series The Weight of the Nation, which was nominated for a Prime Time Emmy. Other HBO films she produced and directed include Dealing Dogs, (Emmy nomination Best Investiga- tive Documentary); Hacking Democracy, (Emmy nomination Best Investigative Documentary); Death on a Factory Farm; Bellevue: Inside Out, a year inside the locked psychiatric wards at Bellevue Hospital; and Mumia Abu Jamal: A Case For Reasonable Doubt?, Cable Ace Award nomination. She has also produced and directed documentaries for the BBC, A&E and Discovery. She most recently produced and directed Grazers: A Cooperative Story with Lisa F. Jackson, being distributed by Collective Eye and Passion River and Patrimonio, which premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival and Full Frame and is being distributed by First Run Features.


Carin van der Donk

  • Carin Van Der Donk's Instagram

Carin van der Donk is a Dutch photographer and camerawoman, based in NYC. At 15 she became an international fashion model, working with photographers like Richard Scavullo, Kurt Markus, and Jean Loup Sieff. After settling in New York City, she became an assistant-producer for Art + Commerce, working with photographers Ellen von Unwerth, Frank W. Ockenfels III, and Mary Ellen Mark, followed by becoming an agent and producer at Julian Meijer et Associes. Her photographs are used by political organizations, including Sister District, Future Now, Housing Justice for All, NoIDC, and Councilmember Carlina Rivera. She contributed stills to the HBO documentaries The Sentence (2018), and Kill Chain (2020). A solo exhibition of her photography was held at the St. George Church, NYC in 2018.  Her portraits of Vincent D’Onofrio appear in Mutha, a book of the actor’s poetry (Cameron Books 2021). She is co-producing a documentary about Fogo Azul, an all female-identified Samba Reggae drum line (she is a band member herself). She is a 2021 graduate of the International Center of Photography program in Documentary Practice and Visual Journalism.


Isabel Vega

  • Isabel Vega's Instagram

Isabel Vega is an award-winning filmmaker with a solid background as director/ producer/shooter and storyteller. Isabel has worked on film and TV projects for HBO, Bravo, Lifetime, Own, Oxygen, TLC and FX. Her film, LA CORONA, is a documentary about a beauty pageant in a high security female prison in Bogotá, Colombia. The film was nomi- nated for an Academy Award (2008), received an Honorable mention at Sundance (2008), won the IDA Award for best short film (2008) and was acquired by HBO.

Vega co-produced two episodes of Morgan Spurlock’s series, 30 DAYS (FX) and was an associate producer on THIN, (which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006). In 2005 she worked with Maryann De Leo on her documentary about domestic violence, TERROR AT HOME.Vega’s latest film (currently in production) is about a local election in Jackson, MS.