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The News Herald  |  January 15, 2018

Brazilian dance troupe Grupo Corpo bringing 40 years of experience to Ohio Theater stage

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Brazilian dance sensation Grupo Corpo, choreographer and co-founder Rodrigo Pederneiras decided to capture the company's unique style, which layers ballet, modern dance and Afro-Brazilian movement, into one performance.

That anniversary show featuring heralded pieces "Sute Branca" and "Dana Sinfnica" makes its stateside debut with a winter tour that includes Cleveland performances Jan. 20 and 21 at the Playhouse Square's Ohio Theatre.

"For 'Sute Branca,' we invited young choreographer Cassi Abranches to create a new piece for our 40th anniversary because we believe we need to attract young people," said Pederneiras, calling from Brazil.

"Cassi used to be a dancer for us before creating her own choreography. She has a little bit of our style, but she started to create her own. That's very important for us. She created the idea Grupo Corpo would like to start over with a new history."

The performance finds Abranches playing with gravity. The 19 dancers will appear as though they're walking in the air, as well as being violently pulled to the ground.

As for "Dana Sinfnica," Pederneiras said it's a piece he created for the 40th anniversary of the company he started with his brother Paulo, the artistic director.

"I thought I could look back and create a piece that was a tribute to people that worked with us, helped us bring the company to today," Pederneiras said. "The idea is to talk about situations with many people, look back and but also create history. There are certainly moments that are very emotional and special. It's a kind of very sentimental work for me."

The New York Times called the company's performance "fizzy, high-voltage dance," while others refer to the dancers' sexiness. Regarding the latter, Pederneiras said it's not sexy as much as capturing the Brazilian dance style.

"We tried to create a Brazilian way to dance," Pederneiras said. "We researched popular Brazilian dances and street dancers. We started to mix it with the way Brazilian people move, which I think is very special because it's very sensual."

Over the decades, Grupo Corpo's dance, music and visual arts has morphed and evolved into different styles while maintaining its modern Brazilian influences such as samba, capoeira, xaxado, Afro-Brazilian, ballet, ballroom, contemporary and athletic dance.

Averaging 80 performances annually, the company has become a global sensation, having appeared in Iceland, South Korea, Lebanon, Canada, Italy, Singapore, Israel, France, Japan and Mexico. In 2016, Grupo Corpo performed at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Pederneiras said Grupo Corpo is known for visceral appearances that move audiences. He's confident this 40th anniversary program will continue that trend.

"People get very emotional and touched by this piece," Pederneiras said.

Grupo Corpo

Presenters: DANCECleveland and Cuyahoga Community College.

When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20 and 3 p.m. Jan. 21.

Where: Playhouse Square's Ohio Theatre, 1511 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.

Tickets: $25 to $60.



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