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Dance Brazil

by Jennifer Wesnousky
March 12, 2006
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011
212-242-0800

Dance Brazil

The Joyce Theater
175 8th Avenue (at 19th)
New York City
(212) 242-0800
www.joyce.org

Artistic Director and Choreographer: Jelon Vieira
Lighting Designer: Kim Palma
Composer/Music Director: Tote Gira
Assistant to the Choreographer: Alex Brito

PERFORMERS: Francisco Dal Forno (Cabelo), Guilherme Duarte, Camila Santos Freitas, Claudia Guedes, Darlan S. Jesus, Raphael Novaes (Fogo) Agatha Oliveira, Danilo Portugal (Macarrao), Janete S. Santana, Leandro Silva (Alegria), Paul E. Silva (Chuvisco), Sivaldo T. Silva

MUSICIANS: Antonio J. Santos (Tote Gira), Edmilson P. Santos, Eduardo P. Santos, Marcelo O. Santos

DANCE BRAZIL TOUR SPONSOR:
TAM
BRAZILIAN AIRLINES

Jennifer E. Wesnousky
March 12, 2006

While mechanically proficient, ballroom or ballet dancers taking a stab at say, salsa or some other, traditional social dance tend to leave their viewers longing for a bit of the genuine, nitty gritty feeling of the original. Meanwhile, a performance by top "street" dancers of salsa or samba might exude that intangible "soul" of their origin, and yet seem less impressive technically. However, as evidenced by their glorious display of both technique and authentic ardor at their performance at the Joyce Theater on Sunday, March 12, 2006, Dance Brazil' proved it possible for one company to encompass both sides of the spectrum.

Entitled "Reflections of the Past", the first act was divided into three, equally enchanting vignettes. Beginning with the silhouetted dancers moving smoothly behind a transparent screen depicting historic Brazilian imagery and a voiceover promoting an "expected liberation from slavery and fear," "Levada" erupted into energetic, African-influenced movement to an omnipresent soundtrack of drumbeats and chants. Costumed in bright-oranges and blues, the dancers were all shoulder rolls, hips, sways and smiles as they invoked the Brazilian Carnival processions. In the following number, "Pescada," a tribute to fishing and Brazil's ocean goddess, Artistic Director/Choreographer Jelon Vieira's choreography felt graceful and yet throbbingly precise. Oozing continuity and camaraderie, the audience was treated to a combination of impossibly perfect leaps, kicks and splits as well as inconceivably sharp shaking of the hips.

The third and most intense segment of the first half of the performance, the spiritually charged "Candomblé," invoked ceremonies from the African-based Brazilian religion the of the same name, contrasting slow motion with faster, more frenzied steps. As the emotion reached its peak, the dancers let out whimpers, wails and screams, tossing a powdery white substance from the floor into the air and writhing on the floor as if in agony.

Act two brought another potpourri of traditional Brazilian rhythms, beginning with the Afro-Brazilian Carnival dance, "Afoxé." Merging smooth body rolls with balletic arms and runs about, this "Candomblé" ritual dance exploded into a joyous celebration. Then, in the evening's far most captivating piece, the dancers of the "Capoeira" catapulted onto the scene in an amazing display of strength and stamina. Employing movements from disciplines as diverse as gymnastics, yoga, ballet, martial arts, breakdancing and modern, the performers engaged one another in mock bouts, barely missing each other's heads as they kicked, jumped and leapt to breathtaking heights.

The troupe's unstoppable energy ensued in both "Samba de Roda," a demonstration of unfettered joy in which the music- and the dancers' derrieres- crescendoed to breakneck speeds, and the show's finale, "Carnaval." Employing striking staging to maintain the aerobic energy of the performance's prior pieces, the dancers sinewy figures and chiseled, emotionally accessible countenances captivated. Shaking along with them, the fringe on their costumes created a crowd-pleasing visual effect as they grouped together to improvise the final festivities of the evening.

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