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Review 2, 10-21: Fado Works
Companhia Portuguesa de Bailado Contemporaneo Remembers Amalia
By Darrah Carr
Copyright 2004 Darrah Carr
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NEW YORK -- The Companhia
Portuguesa de Bailado Contemporaneo delighted me when I viewed a
rehearsal during a visit to Lisbon three years ago. With its North American
debut at the Joyce Theater last week, in a performance seen Friday,
the company lived up to memory and exceeded all expectations. Founded
in 1999, the group of 15 exceptionally talented dancers is headed
by two veteran teachers and choreographers from the Gulbenkian Ballet,
Vasco Wellenkamp and Graca Barroso. The Joyce engagement featured
"Amaramalia Abandono," an evening-length work set to the poignant
songs of fado, as recorded by their most beloved interpreter, the
late Amalia Rodrigues.
There are many opinions
on the origin of fado; some say it originated in the Orient, others
that it stems from Brazilian slave songs. Wellenkamp prefers the
theory that fado imitates the sound of crashing waves and the rhythm
of the ebb and flow of the sea -- a fitting backdrop for the tales
of loss and longing that dot Portugal's seafaring history. His choreography
is appropriately fluid. With its seamless transitions and effortless
partnering, the work recalls the rush, tumble, and flow of water.
is divided into a series of vignettes, each with a title reflecting
the poetry of the chosen song's lyrics. "My Love, My Love" is an
exquisitely tender duet performed by the gazelle-like Ana Maria
Lucaciu and her lithe partner Jose Roman. "April" references the
end of Marcello Caetano's dictatorship on April 25, 1974, while
"Seagull" evokes the wanderlust of a Portuguese sailor. The evening's
deceptively simple set -- low benches that are flipped on their
ends and occasionally climbed -- is constantly rearranged to sketch
an outline of a scene. Shadowy lighting and the easy interchange
of duets and trios suggests both timelessness and restlessness.
While these are individual stories, they speak of shared emotions
-- despair, love, and longing as expressed by the dancers and sent
rippling throughout the theater.
Within the swirl of
activity, Patricia Henriques shines like an unwavering light. She
is powerful but graceful as she spins, collapses, and rises again,
an eddy unto herself. While the movement vocabulary, drawn from
ballet and classic modern dance, is not fiercely innovative, it
is the mastery of craft, the teasing play with dynamics, and the
lush delivery that pleases the eye and makes this dance sing.
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