Known for its explosive physicality, eye-popping aeriels in a mix of Capoeira and Afro-Brazilian dance, the New York based troupe DanceBrazil made their first appearance in Philly as part of the Annenberg Center’s ‘Out of this World’ dance series last week. Actually they just made it, arriving late on the first day of their run because their passports were being held up by the Brazilian government, after performances there.
Randy Swartz, artistic director of Dance Celebration, announced at the Saturday matinee performance that DB just made their performance on Thursday night after the hold up, but that one dancer was still in Brazil. Meanwhile, the company not only performed well, the next morning kept their dates for the student outreach capoeira performances and workshops.
At the Sat matinee performance, the troupe opened with the 35 minute rhythm expose called “Batuke” which refers to the street music that is made from make-shift instruments at Carnivale. The work has an formal score by Daniel Santos, that revolves around a single – stringed instrument called berimbau. A trio of women in ribbony skirts over move in oscillating torso patterns, then break out in liberated dance.
The men followed, in the regimental, but no a no less dancey, rainstick jousting exhibition. The unison footwork is hypnotic, but the precision of the stick wielding thrills. The men and women are finally together in modern garb, ripped ribbed dance togs, mixes more idioms of free dance- from ensemble pulses ala Ailey to gyroscopic salsa moves, for instance, is playful, if less potent, but tons of fun.
DB premiered ’Imfazwe’ an expose of the fight expressionism and the dance aesthetic that form the template for Capoeira has the feel of a company classic on its first outing. Twelve dancers form the physical dialogue in the Capoeria roda to summon and sanctify the energy field. Vieira uses unison work sparingly it seems, perhaps he wants the dancers connected to the moment. All of the fight sequences are showing singular artistry and technique are highlighted with low to the ground butoh slo lurches, hair-trigger body jousting and those mach-speed gladiatorial kicks, are spellbinding