An infectious, seductive and high-octane fusion of Afro-Brazilian live music, contemporary dance and martial arts forms the foundation of DanceBrazil’s 35-year success. From March 22-24, this dance troupe, inspired by the cultural tapestry of Brazil will enthrall audiences with the world premiere of Imfazwe along with the Philadelphia premiere of Batuke.
This performance is part of Dance Celebration, which is presented by Dance Affiliates and the Annenberg Center. Performances take place at the Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St., on Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 PM; Friday, March 23 at 8 PM and Saturday, March 24 at 2 PM and 8 PM. Tickets are $20-$60. Prices are subject to change. For tickets or for more information, please visit AnnenbergCenter.org or call 215.898.3900. Tickets can also be purchased in person at the Annenberg Center Box Office.
With an “unabashed display of bravado,” DanceBrazil, founded and directed by choreographer Jelon Vieira, flaunts a repertory that has long straddled an ever-changing line between propulsive and fluid (The New York Times). There are the acrobatic feats and the gravity-defying athleticism reflective of Capoeira, an African dance/martial arts form that evolved in colonial Brazil as a means of fighting enslavement. Then, there are the swiveling hips, the luscious walks and the agile samba steps—all to the rhythms of live Afro-Brazilian drums.
The company will perform the Philadelphia premiere of the explosive Batuke, named after the term used to describe the sounds and rhythms made by non-traditional instruments played during Carnival celebrations. With live music by Daniel Santos that features the berimbau, a single-stringed instrument that forms the basis of Vieira’s understanding of rhythm and music, Batuke is a resplendent snapshot of revelry—physically and instrumentally.
The world premiere of Imfazwe explores both the fighting and dance aspects of the art form of Capoeira. These dual aspects are inseparable and create an ongoing dialogue in a Capoeira roda, the circle, the actual physical space in which the art is traditionally performed. The work will feature 12 dancers, live musicians and an original score by Brazilian-born and American-raised Patrick Soluri.
As founder and artistic director of DanceBrazil and The Capoeira Foundation, Jelon Vieira and the late Loremil Machado were the first artists to bring traditional Afro-Brazilian dance and Capoeira to the United States. In 1977, they formed The Capoeiras of Bahia, a name that soon changed to DanceBrazil at the suggestion of the late Alvin Ailey, a company supporter and cheerleader. For 35 years, Vieira has guided the company through breathtaking performances before audiences in Europe, Asia, Brazil and the United States.