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Robert Abrams
Performance Reviews
The Joyce Theater
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

DanceBrazil - Anjo de Rua, Eleuther, Missão

by Robert Abrams
April 21, 2004
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011

Featured Dance Company:

DanceBrazil (office)
246 West 38th Street, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10018

DanceBrazil - Anjo de Rua, Eleuther, Missão


presented at
The Joyce Theater
New York, NY

Robert Abrams
April 21, 2004

Anjo de Rua

Anjo de Rua literally means angel of the street and is Brazilian slang for women who work as prostitutes on the streets of Brazil's cities. This dance is filled with provocative, thought-provoking choreography that is also beautiful to watch. By the time the work is done, it has shattered any assumptions one might have had of the proper way to view the lives of these women. At first, the work seems to be a paean to the inner goodness of the women that most people do not see. As the dance progresses, the portrayal shifts back and forth. It ends on an upbeat, hopeful note, but one set in a context that acknowledges the complex realities these women face. The dance achieves this level of nuance through a combination of character, in the sense that you can identify with the dancers' portrayals as people, combined with abstraction. The work has a plot progression without an actual plot. I realize this sounds like a contradiction in terms, but they pulled it off. They might want to try expanding the work to add some singing and dialogue, though. Not because the presentation needs improving (it doesn't - as a dance work it is very nearly perfect), but this is an important topic, and, unfortunately, there is a relatively limited audience for pure dance. They could reach more people by turning it into a Broadway show, and from there, into a movie, but for that they need singing and dialogue. And PLEASE do not do so by adding a narrator, leaving everyone else mute. Go all the way and let everyone speak. I have never seen a dance show with a narrator slapped on it that worked, and some of the people who have tried are very good friends of mine.

Anjo de Rua begins with streetwalkers bathed in smoky, shadowed light. The light forms a cross-hatched pattern that reaches down from above and across from the wings. This image is deepened by the soundscape that projects both urban and jungle at the same time. Guys walk by checking out the women.

The women are expressive and confident when they are by themselves, but hunched and reserved when men are around. And yet, and this is in part an example of how this work is nuanced, the male female interactions are not always oppressive, though plenty of the interactions shown are oppressive.

The choreography employed fine asynchronous partitioning of the stage. The choreography for the women often echoed movements that are often thought of as sacred in African dance, which fits with the idea of a prostitute as an angel. At one point, a woman is being beset by her male customer, while the rest of the women lie on the floor in provocative fetal positions. This worked both as an image in its own right and as an expression of vulnerability. In one of the sections one of the women was tossed around by a group of men rather impressively.

The use of day-glo colors in the costumes helped to counter-balance the seriousness of the theme.

The work ends with a big ensemble number with partner dancing before fading back to the initial image of walking the dark streets in hope and apprehension, joy and despair.

Choreography by Jelon Vieira
Music by Luciano Salvador Bahai
Costumes by Mary Jane Marcasiano
Lighting by Kim Palma
Choreography assistance by Carlos Dos Santos
Dancers: Alegria, Francis Baiardi, Alex Brito, Cabelo, Guilherme Duarte, Fogo, Claudia Guedes, Darlan Jesus, Anette Leite, Macarrão, Ágatha Oliveira, Clodonaldo Santana, Janete Santana
Musicians: Tote Gira (lead guitar), Edmilson Pereira Santos (bass guitar, keyboard), Eduardo Pereira Santos (percussion), Marcelo Oliveira Santos (percussion)


Eleuther is a solo turn for Matias Santiago, who also choreographed the work. This was a work that, even before it was done, left no doubt that both he and DanceBrazil as a whole are superior talents.

Mr. Santiago begins the work spread on the ground in a stark spotlight. He begins to move. The movement quality in this work was radically different than that in the previous work, which just shows that DanceBrazil has range as well as depth. He was so flexible he might as well have been made of rubber. His movement was fluid. His stillness was precise. All of this was inspired by a Puerto Rican tree frog, Eleutherodactylus Coqui. The frog and the person were simultaneously visible. Mr. Santiago seemed to be able to isolate every part of his body, including some that one does not normally think of as separate parts. All in all, Mr. Santiago was one tour de force frog.

Choreography and costume: Matias Santiago
Music: Sérgio Nogueira
Lighting: Fabio Espírito Santo/Kim Palma
Performed by Matias Santiago
Eleuther was originally choreographed for the Andanza Dance Company of Puerto Rico.


DanceBrazil is known for incorporating Capoeira into their works. Missão presented endless variations on the style. Initially, these variations were abstractions of and modern dance-influenced forms of Capoeira. The work next moved into a section where the Capoeira looked more like actual Capoeira, but was slow and stylized. In a particularly well done bit of choreography in this section, one dancer would interact with one other, and then would be handed off to the next dancer. The work next moved to an ensemble section which used both partitioned and synced full-stage groupings. The endlessly transforming patterns were a visual feast. Next the work speeds up and adds color to the dancers' skirts and pants. The women also wore great, colorful patterned tops that, if sold in stores, might even be able to get New Yorkers to stop wearing black all of the time. Appropriately enough, this is the part of the work where the dancers show just how well they can bounce. The dancers performed with high energy right to the end. The final group pose again contained a hint of the sacred. The dancers took their well deserved bows and then treated the audience to a coda of dancing.

Choreography: Jelon Vieira
Music: Ney Sacramento
Costumes: Mary Jane Marcasiano
Lighting: Kim Palma
Choreographic assistant: Marcos Napoleão
Dancers: Alegria, Francis Baiardi, Alex Brito, Cabelo, Guilherme Duarte, Fogo, Claudia Guedes, Darlan Jesus, Anette Leite, Macarrão, Ágatha Oliveira, Clodonaldo Santana, Janete Santana
Musicians: Tote Gira (lead guitar), Edmilson Pereira Santos (bass guitar, keyboard), Eduardo Pereira Santos (percussion), Marcelo Oliveira Santos (percussion)

DanceBrazil will be at the Joyce from April 20 to May 2, 2004.

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