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Flash Review 2, 5-24:
DanceBrazil Makes My Thighs Burn
By Tamieca McCloud
Copyright 2000 Tamieca McCloud
Last night at the Joyce,
DanceBrazil presented a program which was comprised of two premiere
dances. The first was "Black Anastacia" -- a seven-act, 45-minute
work choreographed by Carlos dos Santos, Jr., and set to a commissioned
collaboration between Brazilian percussionist/composer Cyro Baptista
and composer/producer Peter Scherer.
The ballet is based on
the legend of Anastacia -- a beautiful blue-eyed African queen who
was enslaved in Brazil during the 17th century. There's also a variation
that presents Anastacia as being born in Brazil, rather than Africa,
to an enslaved woman and her Portuguese master. Whatever her birth
place might be, this amazing woman is now revered as a saint, celebrated
for becoming the spiritual leader of the enslaved peoples of Brazil,
bringing to them, among other things, strength through candomble.
It's a bit more involved than that, but I'm inspired to read up
on her, so maybe you might want to do the same.
The ballet itself (and
I use the term in the literal sense) is a nice piece. I think that
I was expecting a slightly different animal, but once I let that
go I realized that as the work evolves over time it will become
stronger. What I was a little confused about at one point was the
changing of dancers for the character Anastacia. I had taken the
time to read the program notes which indicated an "Old Anastacia"
and a "Young Anastacia," but none the less I got lost when the change
came. You see, my problem was that visually, they were very different
women, but there was nothing in appearance or movement to indicate
that one was younger or older than the other. With that, I lost
the intention of changing the role around. Another thing that got
to me a bit were a few points where the performers spent a bit too
much time hamming for the audience. It took them out of character,
and as a result was distracting from the work.
The choreography, despite
the aforementioned bit (and maybe it was just me) was very interesting.
Mr. dos Santos has done some very nice interchanging of styles in
the work. I would like to point out two solos that I particularly
enjoyed. The first was, not just her solo, but the overall performance
of Agatha Oliveira -- the "young" Anastacia. The other was by Alex
Brito, who carried three roles in the dance, and also stood out
as a performer. His solo as the Captain of the Guards was beautifully
performed. Like I said earlier: Overall, it was a lovely piece.
And given the proper attention, it will definitely grow.
Now: I thought "Ginga"
was great. Am I biased? I'm sure. See, I try to get to capoeira
classes whenever my schedule, and body, permits. And I most definitely
have a strong appreciation for Brazilian culture. So, "Ginga" really
stood out for me in this program -- a high energy, feel-good piece
celebrating Jelon Viera's 25th anniversary of introducing Afro-Brazilian
culture to the U.S.
The work was co-choreographed
by Mr. Viera and Edilesa dos Santos, and presented with live music
written by musician/vocalist Tote Gira. Included in the work was
some samba that made my thighs burn just watching, and the fast-paced
capoeira intended to "wow" audiences. What caught me the most, though,
was that the dancers really enjoyed themselves, and the energy definitely
flew beyond the edge of the stage.
Look -- If you were wondering
whether or not you should see DanceBrazil this week at the Joyce
Theater, and you can get tickets, you should go. The group is definitely
entertaining. DanceBrazil is performing at the Joyce through this
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