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Companhia Urbana de Dança

April 21, 2016

ID: Entidades, Na Pista

Reviewed April 21, 2016

NAC Theatre, Ottawa

(Second performance Friday, April 22, 7:30 p.m.)

Companhia Urbana

Companhia Urbana, Photography by Alice Gebura

Brazilian dance troupes are rounding out the 2015-2016 dance season with a bang!

Relatively new, and certainly new to the North American dance scene, Companhia Urbana de Dança is a rugged group of nine dancers – eight men and a woman – who mostly come from the “favelas” or rough shanty towns of  Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. Held together by artistic director and choreographer Sonia Destri Lie, who has a deep cultural background that includes ballet, musicals and theatre, the 12-year-old troupe embraces elements of hip-hop, b-boy and contemporary dance, as well as Brazilian social dance.

And it is one high-energy, dynamically vibrant group of performers who showcase their eclectic talents in a uniquely fascinating way!

ID: Entidades introduces us to the eight dancers presenting two of the company’s works this week in Ottawa. At the beginning, focused beams of light that cut only through the middle of the darkened stage highlight the dancers’ torsos, heads and arms, leaving their legs and feet unseen. It’s as if we have only a glimpse of their world, unable to see the whole. Even when the lights come up, the focus remains on the performers – their rhythm and their energy – who are clad in indistinct black costumes.

The fascinating part of this 42-minute work, created in 2009, is how it transitions, through Rodrigo Marçal’s original music and the dancers’ movements, into different styles, weaving into an integrated whole while maintaining a refreshing spontaneity.

Certainly the gem of the program is Na Pista (on the track), a newer work that explores the individual dancers’ roots and the inspiration that comes from the streets of Rio. The seven men and one woman bring their full-blown personalities to the audience, with loud chatter and bravura. Playing an enlivened game of musical chairs under a disco ball, these dancers take themselves and their talent seriously, but they bring fun, playfulness and an unbelievably hot energy to the theatre. Appealing to young and old alike, their undeniable love of life had Thursday’s audience on their feet and even dancing in the aisles.

gnawa_photo_paula_caldas_sao_paulo_dance_company

Sao Paulo Companhia de Danca performs Nacho Duato’s “Gnawa” next week, Photography by Paula Caldas

IF YOU’RE STILL IN THE BRAZILIAN MOOD NEXT WEEK, don’t miss the Canadian premiere of São Paulo Companhia de Dança, which brings three works to Southam Hall on Tuesday, April 26. On the program is a high-speed work for 12 dancers, created by Montreal’s own choreographer Édouard Lock, founder of La La La Human Steps, called The Seasons. Set to a reinterpretation of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, Lock’s work integrates dance, music, scenery and light in a disorienting and dizzying performance. The other two works are Mamihlapinatapai,  a deconstruction of ballroom dancing created by Brazilian choreographer Jomar Mesquita about the desire for love; and Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato’s Gnawa, an exploration of the Mediterranean’s sensuality and spirituality accompanied by Spanish and North African music.

Can’t wait to see it!

 

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