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Embodying Brazil Through Dance

Brazil’s Grupo Corpo brought a ray of bright sunshine to Canada’s dark winter, illuminating a crowded Vancouver Playhouse with graceful lightness, precision and splendor. Twenty-two dancers warmed the hearts of the audience with two astounding pieces presented on February 7 and 8, ending a short and successful tour aroundA NorthAmerica’s West Coast.
Both acts are part of a fine repertoire the company has been developing since 1975, out of the city of Belo Horizonte, under the leadership of the Pederneiras family. Jim Smith, producer at Dance House, the non-profit that brought the group to Vancouver for the second time, highlights the “distinct vocabulary Corpo has grown in contemporary dance“.
He adds that the company’s uniqueness lies on their creative process, whereby “dance is created in response to music“.
Indeed, the conception of every new ballet by the group begins with a commissioned soundtrack, often composed by a prominent Brazilian artist. In the first piece, Ima (Magnet), choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras plays with the attraction and repulsion of bodies, offering the stage to compelling duos and weightless movements, where the dancers’ arms and legs intertwine harmoniously to a charming soundtrack by Brazil’s +2.
Equally captivating, yet seemingly more elaborated and profound, Sem Mim (Without Me) introduces a choreography fueled by compositions in a pleasant, medieval Gaelic-Portuguese. Beneath what resembles a fish net, hanging from the ceiling, Corpo’s dancers move like waves in the ocean, echoing the cry of young women whose husbands and fianciss have ventured into the sea of Vigo.
In both pieces, classical rigor and Brazilian swing become one seamless movement, reflecting the company’s mixed origins in ballet and capoeira.
“I believe that whoever watches a performance by Corpo, discovers a Brazil different to the clichiss surrounding the country“, said dancer Janai­na Castro, who noticed a hint of “Brazilianess“ in the smile and kindness of Vancouverites. Rafael Bittar, one of Corpo’s youngest, perceived a different quality of Vancouver, which stands in stark contrast to the reality of numerous large cities in Brazil: “I was impressed with the great structure of the spaces destined to dance here, as well as with their low cost to the artistic community“.
As the Dance House looks into “expanding the lens on Brazil“, Jim Smith expects to present the city with performances not only by Grupo Corpo, but also by other Brazilian companies in the near future.

About Vi­tor Borba

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