'Baila Brazil' or 'I'm having my Hen Do in Brazil'

Baila Brazil, Bale de Rua
Royal Festival Hall, 6th August 2015
Written for Time Out 

Welcome to Brazil, where the men are ripped and ready to knock your socks off. The performers, mind, aren’t wearing any socks. In fact, the 14 dancers and percussionists from dance company Balé de Rua wear precious little during their pounding dance show, ‘Baila Brazil’. This is a chest-thumping, torso-glistening celebration of Afro-Brazilian culture, which’ll have even the most reticent Brits swaying in their seats. 

Most of the company’s dancers were recruited from the favelas of Uberlândia in Brazil and this heritage is writ large across director, designer and choreographer Marco Antônio Garcia’s production. The show’s backdrop resembles an elegant scaffolding structure and the company spend a lot of time perched up there, grinning at the performers below. It feels like we’ve stumbled across a phenomenal street show, only we’re watching from rather posh seats.  

Singer Alexia Falcão Lopes (one of only two female performers) commands the company with her blazing and throaty voice. Lopes sings with such force that it feels like her arms, leg and chest are singing along with her. She performs a range of original songs, each lit up by a bold and defiant beat and composed by the company and musical director Pedro Ferreira.

The different dancing styles, including capoeira, samba and street dance all combine a raw physicality with a subtler and sleeker elegance. Much of the time, the centre of the dancers’ bodies stays still as their arms and legs glide across the stage, a weirdly distinct force in their own right. 

There are fleeting flashes of slave ships and spark-flying skits, which perhaps recall the country’s mining history. But, in all honesty, if you want to learn about the history of Brazil then you’d best read the programme. These dancers aren’t interested in teaching you about Brazil but only helping you feel its very soul in your body and your bones.


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