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Grupo Corpo Stages Benguele Breu In Brooklyn
Published March 29, 2008

By Ernest Barteldes

Dance troupe Grupo Corpo put on a performance choreographed by Rodrigo Pederneiras on March 29 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

PHOTO: Julieta Cervantes

 

 

 

The piece began with a carefully crafted bossa nova inspired acoustic tune that introduced the dancers, who performed both graceful and complicated moves that seemed to draw inspiration from classic ballet and modern dance. The mood quickly changed on the next movement, which had all to do with capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial art/dance that has gained popularity Stateside in recent years.

 

One interesting point about Grupo Corpo's approach is that Pederneiras does not seem to  coreograph his dance movements solely based on gender – they are performed by women and men alike, and although there is a pair formed by two male dancers, there doesn't seem to be any homosexual message – the chemistry between them is there, but it is not erotically charged  in any way.

 

Benguelê continued its journey by incorporating elements from northeastern music like maracatu, forró, congado (a religious ritual developed by African slaves sent to Brazil) and frevo, Pernambuco's “official”  Carnaval music, to which the dancers jumped frantically as the stage was filled with lively colors that reflected the happy mood of the four days of tireless festivities in that country's streets.

 

A much darker setting greeted the audience for  Breu (deep darkness), whose music was written by Recife-born Lenine. For that piece, the dancers wore black and white outfits, and the stage was outfitted in mirrors in a colorless environment.  The music began as a bit of a martial piece that quickly converted to a Northeastern mode -  as the choreography began, most of the dancers were lying on the floor and mostly writhing on the ground in other movements, some of them suddenly fell to the ground unexpectedly.

 

One of the most daring moments came when heavy rock was played, turning the stage to complete chaos as the dancers ran around and jumped, only to once again collapse to the ground. During one sequence, a male-female pair alternatively simulated lovemaking and wrestling. The music  was also intensely dramatic, going from sweet, melodic themes and suddenly changing to loud percussive moments (with pre-recorded drums played by Igor Cavalera of heavy metal band Sepultura) and back to northeastern Brazilian-inspired arrangements.

 

Benguelê and Breu are completely co