Ana Paula Cançado and Peter Lavratti of Grupo Corpo performing Paulo Pederneiras’
Photo by Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos
Next Wave Festival
Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY
October 25, 2005
Reviewed by Rose Anne Thom
There was nothing that the dancers of Grupo Corpo could not do, nor was there much that choreographer Roberto Pederneiras did not ask them to do. In Lecuona and Onqotô, the Brazilian company’s physical capabilities were striking.
, named for Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, whose music accompanied the dance, was a series of duets (purportedly influenced by ballroom dancing, but offering more than a passing reference to figure skating and gymnastics). While the female dancers’ costumes hinted at the emotional and sexual tenor of each duo—a fiery orange more explicitly emotional than a deeper burgundy—the men always wore black.
Taking cues from the passionate music, each pas de deux was a short story. Fast and furiously, the dancers explored their unique relationships through choreographic ideas that spilled from one duet to the next. Daredevil lifts, with the woman jackknifed above her partner, contrasted with those where the man bobbed his partner’s flopping body close to the floor. Very often the men supported the women at the back of the neck as they tossed them from one precarious pose to the next. (Given the acrobatic intensity of the work, the neck support made one wonder if someone had been hurt.) At other times, the dancers simply entwined their limbs in erotic knots.
’s finale ended with the full cast and a reference, intended or not, to Balanchine’s Vienna Waltzes. But in it the women’s white tulle gowns were a little skimpy, the mirrors not quite polished, and the passion somewhat deflated.
In Onqotô, Pederneiras utilized the full company in mass movement that mirrored the polyphony of Caetano Veloso and Jose Miguel Wisnik’s rhythmic score. The semicircular set was constructed of vertical black ribbons held tightly together, which the dancers dramatically broke through to enter and exit. Here spatial formations provided a dynamic backdrop for explosions of dancing in solos, duets, and trios. The influence of Africa was apparent in the articulation and isolation of body parts, but so were elements of street dance and acrobatics.
The emotional center of the work consisted of two simultaneous floor-bound duets, one composed of two women who seemed to trade rhythms as their languorous dancing progressed.
As in Lecuona, the moments of physical and emotional daring in Onquotô were rigorous and persuasive, but they were isolated interludes in a less coherent whole. See www.grupocorpo.com.br.