City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Grupo Corpo 2014, Festival Theatre Edinburgh, Review

By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 07 November 2014

Sem Mim - Grupo Corpo in kilts and Celtic spirit
Show Details
Grupo Corpo
Rodrigo Pederneiras (Choreography), Paulo Pederneiras,(Artistic Director, set and design), Freusa Zechmeister (costumes), Fernando Velloso (set design). Carlos Nunes, Jose Miguel Visnik, Tom Ze (music composers).
Andressa Corso, Bianca Victal, Carol Rasslan, Carolina Amares, Dayanne Amaral, Edson Hayzer Elias Bouza, Filipe Bruschi, Grey Araújo, Helbert Pimenta, Lucas Saraiva, Malu Figueiroa, Mariana do Rosário, Rafael Bittar, Uátila Coutinho, Victor Vargas, Williene Sampaio, Yasmin Almeida
Running time: 

2015 will mark 40 years since the dance company, Grupo Corpo was founded by the Penderneiras family in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Today, Rodrigo Pederneiras (choreographer), and his brother Paulo continue to preserve its dynamic trademark style, deeply rooted in their native culture, heritage and music.

Grupo Corpo ended their UK tour over the past month, at the Festival Theatre this week, presenting two contrasting works to a packed-out, enthusiastic audience.

Sem Mim (Without Me, 2011) is based on Sea of Vigo, a Medieval song cycle by Portuguese-Galician Martin Codax, set to a contemporary music score by Carlos Núñez and José Miguel Wisnik. Seven sacred songs relate the romantic saga of a woman waiting for her lover to return home from life away at sea.

“Waves of the sea of Vigo, have you seen my friend?
Oh God! Will he come to me soon?
Waves of the stormy sea, Have you seen my loved one,
The man for whom I yearn, Oh God, if only he’d come soon.”

A huge golden globe hangs high above the stage, like a sun or a moon, the light over land and sea. The ensemble step slowly in procession, geometric shapes. Skin tight costumes are artfully decorated to represent primitive tattoos covering naked bodies.

The soulful sound of pan pipes is like whistling wind and lapping waves. The dancers curve and twist their bodies, bending over, bouncing on their feet, as if made of rubber.

There are moments too of melancholy stillness, as the globe descends and unfolds like a fishing net to envelop a couple for a gentle duet.

For the finale the dancers don swirling skirts and kilts as the tempo heightens with a Celtic jig and pounding drums. The free flowing energy of a tribal ritual dance is injected with cheeky Brazilian-beach swagger. Choreography is a creative blend of Zumba aerobics, hip-hop and Latino ballroom steps, all combined with spiritual song and eclectic folk music in meticulous unison.

The second work of the evening was Parabelo (1997), which the company performed at the EIF, 2010. As Rodrigo explains, “It draws inspiration from the art of the northeast where life is really hard, but the paintings are full of colour and the music is happy. Parabelo means a weapon, a gun, because the sol parabelo is the sun that kills.”

Eighteen dancers crouch in a wide circle on the floor, poised in a kind of Yogic position. With incredible timing, they each slowly rotate a few degrees at a time, arms bent, hands and feet moving like robotic crawling crabs. It’s a stunning opening vignette.

The score by Tom Ze and Jose Miguel Wisnik is a vibrant mix of Samba, Bossa Nova, Brazilian Folk and Contemporary Jazz. If there is a narrative, it's not easy to follow the disparate scenes of Brazilian family life and culture: a tall, muscular man dances with a young girl dressed in white, (perhaps his bride), whom he caresses like a beautiful doll.

With a quick change into bright neon red, orange and yellow trousers and tops, the world of Carnival Fiesta fun is expressed with athletic leaps, high kicks and swaying hips. Once again, the choreography can switch in an instant from elegant balletic pas de deux to the carefree sense of freedom, happy go lucky smiling faces = the joy of life.

As a synchronised group of bodies, Grupo Corpo in their finest sequences, create a seamless fusion of movement, like an hypnotic dream of pure dance.

4 and 5 November, 2014.

UK Tour organised by