Artistic Director Jelon Vieira infuses Afro-Brazilian movement, contemporary dance and Capoiera
Three performances only! February 6-7, 2015
BEVERLY HILLS, CA- Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (“The Wallis”) will bring DanceBrazil (Jelon Vieira, Artistic Director), an Afro-Brazilian dance group, to the Greater Los Angeles Area for three performances only, February 6-7, 2015, in the Bram Goldsmith Theater. The program includes the West Coast premieres of Gueto, choreographed by Vieira to music of Marcos Carvalho, and Búzios, choreographed by Guilherme Durarte to music of Leo Jesus. The program also features Viera’s 2013 Fé do Sertão, also set to music by Carvalho. The company will also conduct masterclasses in Afro-Brazilian movement (February 5) and Capoeira (February 7).
For over 30 years, New York City-based DanceBrazil has thrilled audiences across the United States and throughout the world with its dazzling artistry, which is inspired by the cultural tapestry of Brazil. Whether in the streets or on stage in the most prestigious theaters, the dancers of DanceBrazil never fail to enthrall audiences with the company’s unique fusion of Afro-Brazilian movement, contemporary dance and Capoeira, the traditional dance form that had its origins from African slaves from Angola and Mozambique and evolved in colonial Brazil. Afro-Brazilians represent the largest ethnic group in Brazil, approximately 49.6%, and are the largest Black population outside of Africa.
DanceBrazil will premiere two pieces new to Los Angeles audiences: Gueto (“Ghetto”), a testimony to the abiding vitality and humanity that sustain the people living in the many marginalized, disenfranchised communities in Brazil and around the world, and Búzios, which explores the role that “jogo de búzios,” an enigmatic and mystical game of divination, plays in everyday life in Brazil.
The company will round out its program with its 2013 dance Fé do Sertão. Sertão, a largely rural area of Northeastern Brazil is known for its extremely arid climate and brief growing season, which has also helped foster its strong faith and the close-knit communities that support one another through many lean months of the year. Viera’s piece honors that community with a dance that fetes the esteemed Festival of São João, which celebrates the end of the rainy season and the annual corn harvest.
Artistic Director Jelon Vieira – one of the staunchest proponents of Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music – founded DanceBrazil in 1977. Initially formed from grassroots workshops at the Clark Center for the Arts in New York City, Vieira and Loremil Machado were among the first artists to bring traditional Afro-Brazilian dance to the United States. Alvin Ailey, who would join his board of directors in 1980, was the one who suggested the name and in its early days helped focus the objectives of the company.
For 38 years, Vieira has led the company in breathtaking performances for audiences in Europe, Asia and the United States, as well as in his home country of Brazil. In 2008, he was awarded one of 11 National Heritage Fellowships, the United States’ highest honor for those in the folk and traditional arts.
The New York Times said, “the performers of DanceBrazil exist in a ravishing, hard-working paradise … what matters here above all is the gorgeously full physicality of movement, allied to music. The beauty and style of these dancers is already a treat to the senses. Legs maintain powerful extensions like searchlights. The pliancy of those torsos is often breathtaking — not just in the way backs tip so powerfully and freely this way and that, but also in the ways that shoulders or stomach muscles contract and pulsate rhythmically. The dancers glow enthusiastically as they let rip at highest energy.”
DanceBrazil is also offering student masterclasses with a limited number of places held for the public. On February 5 at 6pm, an Afro-Brazilian Class (all ages welcome) is based on the traditional and contemporary dances developed in the northeastern state of Bahia. The movements are based on the gesture of the Orixás dance, the energetic Maculele and the beautiful samba de roda and other influences from the folkloric dances in the region of Bahia. The class will be accompanied by live drumming.
On February 7 at 11 am, a Capoeira class (all ages welcome) will concentrate on the Afro-Brazilian art form which combines fight, dance, rhythm and movement. Capoeira was originally developed by Africans brought to Brazil as slaves in the 1500s. The class will introduce basic movements (ginga) with emphasis on the roda (circular formation) – where the dialogue between players takes place and becomes a conversation through movement which can take on many shades of meaning. Students will be introduced to the instruments used in Capoeira (berimbaus, pandeiros and atabaque) and songs that are sung in the roda. For more information that celebrates the Afro-Brazilian culture, visit afro-brazilian.com.
Tickets are available at www.thewallis.org or by calling 310-746-4000 or in person at The Wallis Ticket Services located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210.