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Quasar Dance Company

'Só tinha de ser com você'

by Ana Paula Höfling

November 6, 2005 -- Teatro Alfa, São Paulo, Brazil

Quasar Companhia de Dança, a contemporary dance company based in Goiânia, Brazil, is slowly gaining recognition at home and abroad for the unique work of its artistic director and choreographer Henrique Rodovalho.

Rodovalho’s latest work, “Só tinha de ser com você” (It had to be with you), presented at the Teatro Alfa in São Paulo, is the result of a bold undertaking: to create choreography to the recordings of two legends of Brazilian popular music (MPB), Elis Regina and Tom Jobim, using the historic album from 1974 Elis & Tom.  The challenge in using such well-known music, the kind to which most people in the audience could sing along, is that the choreographer must be aware that these recordings—the lyrics, the melody and the voices of such giants of Brazilian popular culture—become a strong element on stage and color how the audience takes in the work.  Rodovalho’s evening-length piece shows that not only is he aware of the power of the music he chose, but he knows how to use the weight of this musical recording to his advantage.

The work’s abstract quality and simplicity cleverly contrast an emotionally-charged musical choice.  Sometimes Rodovalho highlights the melodic aspect of the music—a well-placed leap or a brief and unexpected moment of unison— and sometimes he makes the audience hear the lyrics in a different way. While Elis Regina sings about everlasting love and fidelity in the track “Por toda a minha vida”, we see a man a woman interweave in and out of each others’ arms. Unexpectedly the music stops and another woman enters. The music starts over from the beginning and the three dancers repeat the exact same missed embraces from the previous duet, but now we see a trio dancing about eternal love. This ingenious commentary on monogamy—juxtaposing the visual and the aural—reflects the subtlety and simplicity that permeate every level of Rodovalho’s work.

Still acknowledging the audience’s familiarity with the music, the title song, “Só tinha de ser com você”, brings onstage one company member at a time who, under their own private pools of light, “groove” to the samba rhythm in a disjointed, almost spastic way (often going against or ignoring the pulse of the music) while mouthing the lyrics of the song. With just the right dose of humor, Rodovalho nods to the instinctive impulse to sing and dance to a song that has become an integral part of Brazilian popular culture.

But Rodovalho’s work does not depend on previous knowledge of the music or Brazilian culture to be successful. His clean, sharp, well-crafted and superbly performed choreography stands on its own. Rodovalho’s company is comprised of nine dancers with impeccable training and a deep understanding of his idiosyncratic movement style—an ode to gravity and horizontality, infused with a lightness and vitality rarely associated with either gravity or horizontality. Rodovalho’s dancers seem to be moved by an external force that lifts them off the ground and flops them back down with seemingly no muscular effort. Sometimes a dancer’s hand moves a passive, heavy arm or leg out of the way—her own or another dancer’s—further highlighting this sense of being moved rather than moving.

Lavínia Bizzotto seems to belong to the floor even as she soars horizontally above it in impossible spinning leaps in a grounded solo that drew audible gasps from the audience. Both the men and the women in the company are strong and athletic, but at the same time are able to embody a fluidity enviable by any ballet dancer.

Rodovalho’s work is literally and figuratively brilliant. His company proves that it worthy of the name Quasar.

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