featured photo

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home

Flash Review 2, 5-24: Burning Brazilian
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 Sunday.

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home