Saturday 15 July 2006 at the Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, Jean Abreu presented Raizes, a compilation of Brazilian dance and music. Abreu was joined by four musicians: Anselmo Netto, percussion and bandolin, Adriano Silva Pinto, percussion, Josue Ferreira, guitar and voice, Maximillian Baillie, violin and voice accompany Jean Abreu who was joined intermittently by Ponciano Almelda, Capoeira master and dancer and dancer, Leticia Pereira.
Maximillian Baillie began with a serenade on the violin. Abreu dressed in a white suit with hat, white shoes, black and white strip shirt, performed several poses, some of his gazes directed toward the audience. Abreu’s dance contained quick sweeping leg movements with intricate foot work and strut accompanied by several stylised hand gestures. Ponciano Almelda enters doing Capoeira movements all very close to the ground. Abreu in his suit juxtaposed Almelda who in cotton trousers and tunic glided along the floor in a circle around Abreu. This interaction occurred while the music played downstage left with both dancers using the rhythm in their own particular way. The juxtaposition created portrays two cultures, the traditional or rural coexisting with the urban. A dual vision that alludes to cultural proximity, Abreu’s opening sets the stage for an intriguing exposé on four of Brazil’s most popular social dance practices: Samba, Forró, Lambada and Capoeira.
Samba, Forró, Lambada and Capoeira were the result of the importation and migration of African and European peoples who brought their music and dance to Brazil with the advent of slavery. Sustaining the impact of political and social developments in government, industrialisation and urbanisation coupled with cultural cross fertilization, the traditional forms evolved and fostered all sorts of amalgamations in dance practice. From a form of resistance found in Capoeira to social practices of Samba created for recreation or theatricalisation, the encounter, sharing and evolution of these forms provides Brazil with its own distinct practices of these dances. Abreu feels his exploration into these particular Brazilian dance forms will be instrumental to his artistic growth. With embodied knowledge of these traditional forms Abreu actively sought to make something original.
At the beginning of Raizes, Abreu performed samba variations that accelerate along with the music and slows with dramatic inferences as Leticia Pereira enters wearing spike, sling shot heels and black dress with every inch covered with black shimmy fringe. The musicians walk upstage playing variations that set the ambiance for this meeting. Pereira and Abreu walk in opposition from stage left to right their body language a measuring, tantalizing encounter that intensifies gradually. Pereira sits in a chair and Abreu knells, there are several subtle but titillating tableaus; Abreu’s hand arriving in a tacit clutch on Pereira’s arm or a brief pause in the movement for Abreu to hold Pereira’s leg. All are elegant moves; subtle, simple touches that hint a sensual intention. Pereira’s hip shimmies are as exquisite as they are arousing which climax as Abreu lifts and places Pereira gracefully in his lap or standing on her feet. With this opening the rest of Raizes is a graceful presentation of varied Samba, Forró, and Lambada couple dances
This playful flirtation between couples is a Kongo-Angolan (Bantu) attribute and is seen in Brazilian Samba, Forró, and Lambada. None of these forms exist without the music that accompanies them. The music supplies the rhythm and ambiance for their performance making dance and music interdependent. The profusion of Samba dance styles is immense with Samba music, Brazil’s national music, encompassing forms for drum orchestras to carnival trucks.
Traditional Forró is played with three instruments; accordion, zabumba (typical Brazilian percussion instrument resembling a rudimentary bass drum but is played with one stick and one hand), and a metal triangle. The dance Forró has many styles but basically it is danced in couples close at the pelvis, the man's right leg staying in between the woman's legs. Salsa and other Caribbean dance forms have influenced Forró adding numerous gestures from spins accompanied by fancy heel flourishes to lifts for the woman to sit on the man’s knee. More sensual than salsa, couples dancing Forró twist, turn, grind and gyrate attached at the hips.
Lambada with its distinctive music and dance became internationally popular in the 1980’s. It is thought to have originated in Brazil as a derivative of Carimbo; a dance with a history dating back to the 1500’s incorporating many spins with the woman trying to cover the man with rounded skirts. Practiced in the north, the Carimbo changed with influences from other Caribbean metallic and electronic music practices with accompanying dance forms. By the 1980’s the Carimbo with its two beat rhythm and multiple spins became known as the Lambada. Travelling to Bahia the Lambada received influences from Forró and incorporated a four beat rhythm. Lambada as a “forbidden” dance was propagated by the 1990’s movie of the same name but most practitioners prefer to think of the Lambada as more a romantic than erotic dance. As popularity diminished, which spread to Europe and Japan, and the music most associated with Lambada faded, practitioners found other music forms, Flamenco Rumba and Zouk music to Lambada to.
Capoeira also is a Kong-Angloan (Bantu) relative with many cousins, ladja in Martinique and kalinda in Trinidad to name two. Capoeira is a couple dance where participants spar in a movement language that resembles martial art practices. Incorporating slow and slippery full body balanced and inverted moves to ballistic full body or single leg moves with choreographed near misses, Capoeira is an implication to fight. Practiced in Roda (at times spelled hoda) the strategy is to predict your opponent’s next move before he makes it by performing well timed and clever manoeuvres. Two players use gymnastic and martial art like movements performed in a circular type flow, reacting to each other dictated by a mixture of African and Brazilian rhythms.
Abreu arranged the positioning and movement of his accompanists to accentuate intimacy and importance of the relationship between music and dancers. With the lights dimming the musicians play while changing their place on stage. Excerpts from “Morte e vida Severina / The Death and Life of a Severino” by Brazilian poet João Cabral de Melo Neto are recited. Josue Ferreira sings while accompanied by guitar, violin, triangle and percussion. As the beat gets faster Abreu and Pereira Lambada across the stage and exit. They re-enter, moving in slow, sensual, encircling motions with rhythmical twists and curves accompanied by arrested caresses that are accentuated by Pereira’s flowing hair. Done in bare foot with both dressed in white cotton trousers, Abreu a tunic top and Pereira a white halter, the dance continues with subtle grinding, slow drag type motions that progress around the stage. Soon Pereira exits and Abreu takes a solo that continues the motion and disposition set from the couple dance; his controlled sensual abandonment ending in stillness.
Abreu takes this moment to thank the audience and name the musicians and their instruments. Abreu also offers autobiographical information revealing he has worked in Britain for ten years and feels it an honour to be able with Raizes to explore his roots and traditional dance lineage.
Almeida enters playing a berimbau, an instrument having a bow-like body upon which he strikes a cord with a stick. The berimbau makes a familiar resonance that is controlled by the movement of the cabaça against his body while controlling the tones of the string with a smaller implement and caxixi shaker. Abreu taking in sequence several low poses with turns and shoulder stands, carefully places hand on the earth. With the berimbau secured off to the side, Almeida and Abreu begin roda; slow and deliberate both perform several different leg lifts, turns, slips and rebounds from the floor and head stands all carefully placed and graceful countering each others prowess surrounded by the rhythm.
It can only benefit a young choreographer to explore the richness and profusion of expressions found within his heritage. It also benefits the audience to experience visually and viscerally these Brazilian expressions executed with such clarity and nuance.
THEA NERISSA BARNES
Last edited by Thea Nerissa Barnes on Tue Jan 09, 2007 12:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.