Holly 'Slowik' de Melo aka Instrutora Tomate grow up an all around athlete in Hartford County, Rocky Hill, Connecticut. She was a member of the Rocky Hill swim team, varsity soccer team and track team. Starting at two years old, she has taken multiple forms of dance and competed nationally in rhythmic gymnastics. She began teaching dance and rhythmic gymnastics at the age of twelve and taught at the Rocky Hill, Newington and West Hartford Community Centers. During high school and college, she was very involved in freestyle hip hop and house dancing performing and competing in battles in West Virginia University, Hartford, New Haven, UCONN, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Florida, New York and Mexico. Tomate graduated from the University of Connecticut with a bachelor's degree in English and Anthropology.
After obtaining her Masters in Elementary Education from the University of New Haven, she began teaching 6th grade in Brooklyn in New York. She was nominated teacher of the year by Long Island University, and has been a NYC public school for over 12 years. While living in New York City, Tomate fell in love with capoeira. She began training with Mestra Jo in 2002. Soon after training, she wanted to spread her love of capoeira to the inner city students in Brownsville and Flatbush Brooklyn. She knew they would greatly benefit from it. Working closely with Professor Tuzinho her teacher, Tomate created capoeira programs in two schools in Arthur Sommers I.S. 252 and Ron Brown Academy. Her and her students performed capoeira in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut and all over New York, including the famous Apollo Theater and John Jay College. Tomate has a passion for teaching children. She has taught 'Mommy and Me' classes in Prospect Park and taught workshops and performed at numerous daycares and schools, such as Little Stars, The Learning Experience and Benjamin Jepson Interdistrict Magnet School. She has also worked for community out reach programs through Sports and Arts in Schools and the CHAMPS program.
In addition, Instrutora Tomate has appeared on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, Caipirinha - Jinga Boogie Music Video, Fight Dance Sing Movie, Rede TV Capoeira Documentary and performed at the center for Institute for Integrative Nutrition, China Club, and Copacabana Club, besides innumerous capoeira cultural events in United States such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, San Diego, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Newark, Princeton, Bridgeport, Stamford, New Haven, Meriden, Hartford, West Hartford, Boston, and Tijuana, Mexico, São Paulo, Bahia and Minas Gerais, Brasil. She medaled in the 1st and 2nd Capoeira US Open competition in the solo, intermediate and dupla divisions.
Currently, Tomate teaches children's capoeira classes at the Rocky Hill Parks and Recreation Center, Hartford Area. Her teaching experience makes her a successful capoeira instructor because of her ability to: plan engaging classes, measure student learning and utilize unique techniques to reach many different learning styles.
Tomate lives in Rocky Hill, CT with her husband Professor Tuzinho and daughter, who also train capoeira. She works as a Literacy Coach in East Hartford. Tomate loves to train herself and is driven to making capoeira accessible to kids, children and adults of all fitness levels.