Ballet with a Rio rhythm

Grupo Corpo

Grupo Corpo

Birmingham Hippodrome

****

THIS mix of ballet and contemporary dance with a Brazilian twist all danced to music which at times is insistently pulsating, at times beautifully lyrical, is all quite hypnotic.

It seems to have no obvious narrative although the shapes created and the movement suggest moods and emotions. The opening piece, Sem Mim, which dates from 2011, ebbs and flows as the 18 dancers appear together, in groups of various sizes and singly.

At times they dance as individuals with no apparent link with other dancers but amid  the unrelated dances patterns emerge and suddenly the stage is filled with perhaps two groups, or a single tribe.

The programme tells us the sea of Vigo carries away and bgropo corporings back friends and lovers and in turn gives life to Sem Mim, which translates as without me.

The music for the dance, which was all in place before a step was choreographed, is written by Carlos Núñes  of Vigo in northern Spain (Home of Celta Vigo in La Liga for those who think Brazil is all about carnival and football) and José Miguel Wisnik of Brazil, based on the only surviving seven songs of 13th century Galician Portuguese poet Martin Codax, the sea of Vigo song cycle, his Cantiga de amigo , literally songs about a boyfriend.

And there is certainly a feel of waves, of storms and calm, and a sensuality with the nine men and nine women in the same tight body stockings, a design by Freusa Zechmeister. Which diminishes sexuality in favour of sensuality.

The individual designs on each costume are inspired by mediaeval drawings and leave the dancers appearing naked apart from 13th century tattoos.

The setting and lighting by Paulo Pederneiras are an integral part of the dance with a huge shimmering sheet slowly raised to create a cloud with lighting able to change it from summer’s day to storm cloud. At one point it drops for one sensual dance where there is no mistaking man and women and with a front gauze creates a dreamy mist.

Dancers in the body stocking costumes of Sem Mim

The dancing is not what we are accustomed to in more classical dance with choreography from Rodrigo Pederneiras introducing lithe, flowing movements with waves flowing from head to foot, which means that the whole body becomes part of the dance.

The narrative may be difficult to follow but the story is told in the feelings the dancers create with music that is always interesting and at times has hints of Irish folk song amid Andean pipes and lyrical piano.

The second piece is the much older Parabelo, from 1997 created after choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras had travelled around the hot, poor north east of Brazil. The people had little but still managed vibrant art, dance and music. The music from Tom Zé and José Miguel Wisnik draws on that energy and life which is also reflected in the dance and set design from Fernando Velloso and Paulo Pederneiras.

A backdrop of huge heads quickly changes to a wall mural of life in towns and villages off the tourist trail.

The dance is full of life and energy to end the show on a high.

Again we see individual dances slowly finding unison, order out of chaos and once again we are presented with dancing of the highest quality. The company was formed in 1975 by Pederneiras brothers and has gone from strength to strength and it is easy to see why. Grupo Corpo, literally Body Group, have a second night at Birmingham Hippodrome 29-10-14

Roger Clarke

28-10-14

Grupo Corpo is presented by Dance Consortium which is a group of 16 theatres across the UK which came together in 2000 to bring contemporary dance companies from around the world to Britain, providing venues for a viable tour and sharing costs and risks.

Since its formation Dance Consortium has presented 34 tours by 22 different companies from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, France, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Israel and the USA with performances and education activities experienced by hundreds of thousands of people around the UK.

Member theatres are: Grand Opera House, Belfast; Birmingham Hippodrome; Alhambra Theatre, Bradford; Brighton Dome; Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury; Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff; Festival Theatre, Edinburgh; Curve Theatre, Leicester; Sadler’s Wells, London; Milton Keynes Theatre; Theatre Royal, Newcastle; Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, with Dance 4; Theatre Royal, Plymouth; The Lowry, Salford; The Mayflower, Southampton; New Victoria Theatre, Woking  

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