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Review 3, 10-30: Brazilian Movement
Corpo Incorporates the Music
By Darrah Carr
Copyright 2002 Darrah Carr
NEW YORK -- Brazil's
"Grupo Corpo" is a celebration of dance for dance's sake. Working
under the premise that dance is nothing more than the incorporation
of the music, choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras creates complex
scores for the body with incredible musical sensitivity. The 21
company dancers are finely tuned instruments. Each is an athlete
and an artist, delivering technical feats with amazing precision.
Last weekend marked the company's debut performance at the Brooklyn
Academy of Music, where it presented two lengthy works, "21" and
"O Corpo," as part of BAM's 20th Next Wave Festival.
Of the two dances, "O
Corpo" is a more cohesive, fully integrated work. Popular Brazilian
musician Arnaldo Antunes combines text, organic noises, and electronic
sounds in his complex, polyrhythmic score, while artistic director
Paulo Pederneiras (Rodrigo's brother) contributes a striking, blood-red
lighting design. Groups of dancers stalk across the stage, casting
sidelong glances at the audience before kicking high above their
heads with a ferocity that rips the air. Most of the work's eight
movements highlight such bold physicality -- spines whipping through
rhythmic undulations, heads thrown back leaving throats exposed
-- that watching all this rigor one is both thrilled and curious
about chiropractic bills.
Halfway through the
work, in contrast to the previous extreme dancing, three dancers
in black unitards with long fringe slip onstage, their bodies swaying
gently to low vocals. They move in front of a large white square
projected on a scrim. The figures and the box of light continually
cross the stage and return. It is a simple but absolutely mesmerizing
effect. After a while, one feels there are only three things left
in the world: the white square, the black curves, and the haunting
In "21," Pederneiras
creates mesmerizing effects with more bodies. At one point, the
entire company moves across the stage with the slow motion control
of Butoh dancers. One woman lunges in the opposite direction. Suddenly,
the entire picture is reversed and everyone backs away at twice
the speed. It's like seeing a reel of film run backwards. Pederneiras
sets up many interesting pictures throughout the work. Nevertheless,
there is a disjointed feeling to the order in which they are presented,
as if he had a bunch of ideas to try, but then dropped them without
To a large extent the
work is an intellectual study, an exploration of the number 21 and
its divisions, primarily 3 and 7. Dancers flit from group to group
creating complex puzzle patterns. The eye barely has time to adjust
to one arrangement when the next magically appears. Dressed in yellow
unitards, the dancers are energetic squiggles of motion, constantly
shifting direction and responding to different rhythms in the music.
During the last section, however, the piece begins to feel chaotic.
The dancers change costume; some wear striped unitards, some don
flowered leggings, and others put on neon tights. A brightly colored
set with a patchwork quilt design dominates the scrim. The entire
cast whips into an impressive, but exhausting frenzy. When the final
moment of unison arrives, it's a welcome relief.
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