Written by Kristen Legg
The wonderful thing about Grupo Corpo is that, while choreographers Rodrigo Pederneiras’ choreography has a very distinct movement quality that can be seen in all his works, each piece is still unique. In a large percentage of his work, Pederneiras uses quick footwork, sudden changes in dynamics from sharp to smooth, hip movements that go in every direction possible, and jagged flexed feet. With head focus that does not always follow the direction of movement and often non-choreographed arm movement the works take on an unaffected quality—almost flippant. Interlaced in this choreographic style is Pederneiras’ Brazilian influence; earthbound and undulating movement can be seen throughout his work. Finally, the works of Grupo Corpo are almost always athletic, fast-tempo-ed and repetitive. The two works presented at Thursday evening’s performance at Meany Hall were no exception.
The first work of the evening, Parabelo, featured beautiful music of Brazil by Tom Zé and JoséMiguel Wisnik. Some sections featured traditional Brazilian instruments and voice, while others used strings and piano to frame the dancers. A highlight of this work was the duet featuring the petit yet powerful Silvia Gaspar. Gaspar seemed to float across the stage as she was lifted by her partner and hovered suspended in the air over the tops of her feet. With beautiful side lighting—by technical director Paulo Pederneiras—the two appeared to be underwater. Sadly, this was one of the only sections of partnering in the work. Pederneiras is known for his innovative and aggressive partnering in his newer works, and Parabaelo, premiered in 1997, was missing this element.
What Parabelo lacked in partnering, the evening’s second work, Ímã, made up for. Filled with gravity-defying tosses, creative weight sharing, and beautiful lifts, there was so much to watch in this work. What makes Grupo Corpo’s company so great at partnering is how gracefully they go in and out of lifts. Even after being thrown overhead, the dancers land with little reaction and move right into the next movement. The most surprising moment in Ímã was a slow and sensual duet. After the high-paced dancing seen before, this elegant movement drew the audience in. Suddenly, the section changed to a violent and passion duet, which ended as powerfully as it had begun.
A common theme throughout the evening was color. In Parabelo, the dancers wore vibrant unitards covered with black tulle. As the piece progressed, more and more of the costume color was unveiled. By the end of the work, the large cast was clothed in reds, oranges, and yellows, creating a sea of moving color. Ímã also took the audience on a journey from bland grey to a spread of all the colors of the rainbow. In this work, not only the costumes but also the lighting engaged the audience visually. The stage’s white wings and backdrop were continuously changing colors, sometimes complementing the costumes, at other times clashing.
Grupo Corpo can be seen at UW’s World Dance Series at Meany Hall February 4-5, 2011. Tickets can be purchased at www.meany.org or at the box office.