Grupo Corpo – a spectacular energy that never fails to amaze

Grupo Corpo - GIRA. Photo by Jose Luiz Pederneiras

The new season of Vicenza Danza opened with a spectacular performance of Grupo Corpo, a mind-blowing company that never fails to amaze. Once again the city has had the pleasure to host the incredible Brazilian-based dance company on the only Italian date of its 2018 European tour.

The program includes two pieces, Dança Sinfonica created in 2015 to celebrate Grupo Corpo’s 40th anniversary and the Italian premiere of Gira (2017), a compelling and mysterious dance of ethnic and spiritual inspiration.

In Dança Sinfonica the music, composed for the occasion by Marco Antônio Guimarães, melds multiple melodies and rhythms, supporting the intent of the piece: a collection of the most stunning excerpts of the company’s repertoire over the years. The main pattern sees dancers proceeding from side to side like sea waves, alternating solos with duets, in a continuous flow of quick hops and bounces, sometimes crawling or moving with animalistic attitude. The phrases constantly change and reiterate the sequence of rapid and sensual moves, achieving every time new virtuosities.

Grupo Corpo - Danca Sinfonica' . Photo by Jose Luiz Pederneiras
Grupo Corpo – Danca Sinfonica’ . Photo by Jose Luiz Pederneiras

Bright red leotards for women (all black for men) match the red curtains on one side, turning a minimal stage into a visually captivating setting where the fiery colour combines with enthusiastic energy. There is only one exception in the costumes, the one of a female dancer wearing a pale rose leotard. Emerging from the dark she engages in a sublime duet, feet pointed like a compass and sharply defined movements. It’s one of the most powerful sequences, a solemn display of astounding strength and precision. Ending with a display of a collage of images of the company’s history in the back drop, Dança Sinfonica is a terrifically enjoyable piece.

Grupo Corpo - Danca Sinfonica' . Photo by Jose Luiz Pederneiras
Grupo Corpo – Danca Sinfonica’ . Photo by Jose Luiz Pederneiras

Gira (meaning paths, rotation) feeds on ethnic suggestions of religious inspiration, with original music by Metá Metá. The work draws from the diverse cultures that enrich the Brazilian society and it’s inspired by the representation of primitive Afro-Brazilian cults.

Tiny candles contour the stage and contribute to convey an atmosphere of solemn religious rites. The whole piece reminds of a tribal group dance, with bare chested performers wearing white long skirts making it hard to distinguish between males and females. They look like monks in this simple but effective costume that amazingly enhance the rotating movements predominant in the choreography.

Grupo Corpo - GIRA. Photo by Jose Luiz Pederneiras
Grupo Corpo – GIRA. Photo by Jose Luiz Pederneiras

This idea of rotation is central in Gira, perfectly explored through the constant presence of all dancers on stage (about 20), even when not dancing they remain seated on the side hidden behind a dark veil, jumping unexpectedly into the choreography and joining the flow with stunning precision. Curved spines, swaying hips, and long arms and legs drawing circles everywhere – a never stopping contorted movement that turns them into a group of erratic souls possessed by unknown spirits. A sort of trance set to louder music that keeps growing and transforms into a final liberating downfall. Gira is simply sensational, a burst of vitality that makes difficult for the spectator to look away.

Grupo Corpo - GIRA. Photo by Jose Luiz Pederneiras
Grupo Corpo – GIRA. Photo by Jose Luiz Pederneiras

Created and led by the Pederneiras brothers (Rodrigo, Paulo and Gabriel), Grupo Corpo is recognized worldwide for its enthusiasm and originality: an eclectic fusion of Brazilian dance, with its particular rhythms and hybrid influences that blend with the rigour of the neoclassical style. Founded in 1975 in Belo Horizonte, the company represents the excellence of contemporary Brazilian dance, always drawing inspiration from very different backgrounds and cultures.

Reviewed at Teatro Comunale Città di Vicenza on 11 November

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