Birmingham Hippodrome, Tuesday 28th October, 2014
Brazilian dance troupe Grupa Corpo brings a double-bill of pieces from their repertoire. Never having seen them before, I come away at the end with a good idea of what they’re about.
The first piece SEM MIM sets out their stall to good effect. Clad only in bodystockings painted with designs like bodyart, the dancers combine fluidity with jerky movements, natural with unnatural. Sometimes they move in synchronisation, often they move alone or in pairs among the rest. Above them hangs a mass of white fabric, like the sail of a great ship or a cloud, or indeed a net. This is a piece based on villagers waiting on a shore for their fishermen to return – well, I wouldn’t have got that if I hadn’t looked it up. There are programme notes and a website you may consult, but I don’t think one should have to. I stop trying to work out what it all represents and relax, enjoying the abstract forms as I would enjoy abstract painting. If there is a narrative, I don’t get it, but I don’t let it spoil my enjoyment.
There is an informality to the choreography by Rodrigo Pederneiras, a quirky gracefulness that is spellbinding. I don’t need to know the backstory, I find, to get a lot out of it.
The second piece PARABELO has more direct impact on this reviewer for whom dance is a foreign language. The opening sequence has them all on the floor, padding around on hands and feet while facing upwards. It’s odd and funny and captivating. In particular there is a duet in which the male dancer carries the female around, like a rag doll, like someone unable to walk – she can only move with his support. And for him it’s not a burden, it’s a labour of love. It’s about caring and dependency – well, it is to me, anyway.
The music is just as foreign. Insistent rhythms and searing vocals, sometimes it’s a cacophony, sometimes it’s hypnotic. Often it’s a mixture of both, perfectly matching the choreography with its blend of the organic and the unnatural. There is a lot of Brazilian heritage in the sounds and, if I knew more about the dance, in the movement too no doubt.
The piece builds to a bright and colourful, carnival atmosphere and a sudden and vibrant finish. I may not understand but I am transported and uplifted just from taking the show at face value.