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Roy Berko  |  January 22, 2018

GRUPO CORPO leaves them standing at the Ohio Theatre; area dance previews

From the moment patrons entered the lobby of the Ohio Theatre, they knew they were in for a "different" evening of dance. The Tri-C Jazz group was loudly playing as an invitation to GRUPO CORPO, the world respected Brazilian Body Group," which has created its own theatrical language and choreography.

The dance company is noted for bridging nature and culture, highlighting "all facets of Brazil, past and future, erudite and popular, foreign influence and local color and the urban and the suburban into art. Brazilian art."

Founded in 1975 by Paulo Pederneiras, he became the driving force behind the company's success. A glance at the program shows the strong Pederneiras influence. Paulo is Artistic Director, Rodrigo is the choreographer, Pedro is the technical director and Gabriel is the technical coordinator.

The Dance Cleveland/Cuyahoga Community College co-sponsored performance consisted of two pieces, the 32-minute "sute branca" and the 42-minute "dane sinfnica."

Each program segment was made up of mini-units highlighting the company's erudite repertoire and unique dance vocabulary, combining classical technique with a contemporary interpretation of Brazilian dance forms.

The over-arching concept of the company is clearly seen as each dancer's physical shape and presence is unique. In contrast to many dance companies, no body- type dominates, no race stands out, diversity reigns. Each individual form is an instrument to be played in its own way.

The synchronization of movements, body bends, high kicks, same and opposite gender partnering, waves, gymnastics, kips, rolling across the stage, enmeshing, stepping over other dancers, sensual hip movements, unusual lifts, and flailing hands are all incorporated into the moves which parallel the musical sounds. Humor and high drama are present.

"sute branca" found the company found the company dressed in all white, on a white floor and cyclorama. "dane sinfnica" was highlighted by the women in scarlet while the men were in black. They danced before a wall of over a thousand informal photographic snapshots made into a backdrop panel, establishing the over-arching mood for the piece.

The effect of the choreography, dancing, setting and music was emotionally moving. This is an exciting company with a clear mission to expand the world of Brazilian dancing to be more than the expected Samba, and to combine traditional story-telling and Brazilian history with contemporary moves.

Capsule judgment: "Viva," (hurray) "admirvel," (marvelous) and a "ovao de p" (standing ovation) to Grupo Corpo! Dance Cleveland's Pam Young chased after the company for ten years until she got them to come to Cleveland. It was worth the effort.

Next up for Dance Cleveland and Tri-C is CHE MALAMBO, 14 powerful Argentine Gauchos stomping, drumming and dancing on March 17, 2018, 7:30 PM, Ohio Theatre.
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