Brazil Festival: DanceBrazil at the Joyce | March 12-16, 2014….
There is just something very special about DanceBrazil…it is more than the superb dancing or the unique ways in which Capoeira and Afro-Brazilian movements are incorporated into the choreography. It seems that the stage is brighter place when are dancing; there is an aura that shines from each performer when they dance.
The first offering of the night was an excerpt from Jelon Vieira’s 2013 work, in which he collaborates with composer Marquinho Carvalho, Fé Do Sertão. The work is a celebration of the culture and people of Sertão, a dry, rural area of Northeastern Brazil dependent on seasonal rains. On June 24 of each year, a festival is celebrated that was originally introduced by the Portuguese during the colonial period, Festival of São João (St. John). It is a centuries old celebration to give thanks to the end of the rain, the precious corn harvest, and the beginning of “winter”.
The piece starts with five men and two women, hunched over, we only see their backs. It’s as if they are inspecting the crops or perhaps just in trying to find some kind of shelter from the rain. Micheal Korsch’s lighting is reminiscent of the beginning of dawn, dark but warm.
The dancing for this work is intensely physical. Frankly you can say that all the choreography performed by DanceBrazil is intensely physical. Immediately you get a sense of camaraderie, a sense of a community where both joy and sadness is shared.
It is easy to visualize this celebration that has occurred for six centuries. The festival, with roots in pagan courtship rituals, has as a custom the hitting of each other either with garlic flowers or soft plastic hammers. Neither garlic flowers nor plastic hammers were used in the dance, but the same sense of courtship/kinship is present.
The dancers of DanceBrazil move as each is controlled by a central brain. That is how tightly their dance as a group. I have seen world famous ballet companies whose corps de ballet was not as tight or as in sequence as those dancers on stage.
There is joy in the choreography, bodies twisting in space, groupings of two or three often pull away to celebrate together as a unit. Mr. Vieira is not shy to his approach to the use of the body in space. His movements are continuance, the body seldom still. Each movement of the body is propelled by the movement before, the bodies’ move with fluidity but still possesses such astounding strength.
Marquinho Carvalho score was performed live by Marco Dos Santos, Naiton Dos Santos and Gil Oliveria. Now when I say performed, I do mean PERFORMED… The musician’s energies matched and even fueled that of the dancers on stage…
DanceBrazil is uniquely composed of eight men and two women. But never think for one moment that the two women, Dalila Leal and Joely Silva allow themselves to be intimidated or out performed by the men. They matched the men in physicality move for move. They were both intoxicating to watch.
Guilherme Duarte returns to the company both as a dancer and choreographer with the premiere of Búzios. Búzios explores role in everyday life that jugo de búzios, a form of divination used in many African religions and religions of the African diaspora.
Wearing Luciano Santana’s costumes, the ten dancers are all in white with round or oblong objects around the waist or over the shoulders. The round or oblong objects were symbolic of the cowrie shells and customarily white clothing is worn by practitioners during Candomble ceremonies. The cowrie shells are used as a tool through with the Orixas speak.
Mr. Duarte approached Leo Jesus and Mauricio Lourenço score with choreography that was quieter in tone when in comparison to the first work seen. There is a more meditative stance to the work, with their backs to the audience the dancers lunge forward then shake their hands over their shoulder often moving concentrically as a group around the stage.
Mr. Duarte’s takes an abstract approach to his use of the body in space. His is a more contemporary vision of dance and though it is still present, he utilizes less of the Capoeira and Afro-Brazilian movement. Over all, I thought it an excellent work.
Jamildo Alencar was excellent. He does not move with but rather allows the choreography to flow though his body. Where with the other dancers you could see them start and stop as the choreography dictates their dancing, Mr. Alencar movements are fueled by the inhalation and exhalation of his breath. He has a slinky sensuality to his dancing that must really be seen to fully grasp. Bravo Mr. Alencar….
The third work seen was the premiere of Jelon Vieira’s latest work, Gueto. Gueto’s score is also a collaboration with the award-winning Brazilian composer Marquinho Carvalho and is Mr. Vieira’s testimony to the abiding vitality and humanity that sustain the people living in the many marginalized, disenfranchised communities in Brazil and around the world.
In Gueto the dancers excellently portrayed the sense of disenfranchisement and the marginalization felt by some of Brazil’s populace. They constantly ran on and off the stage or appeared out of the total darkness of the back of the stage and ran to the front. Sirens were intermixed within the score.
There was a sense of desperation, but also of grit, a determination to survive regardless of the odds. It was a strong work that I hope to see it again……..