Monday, July 21, 2003

Dance Brazil (Cain Park)

Uneven Dance Brazil at Cain Park

For over 25 years, the celebrated dancers and musicians of DanceBrazil have been among the foremost interpreters of Afro-Brazilian culture. The company's signature qualities are power, precision, passion, and eye-popping virtuosity. Under the banner, “We've got movement! “ the company is now on an international tour. In between stops in Germany and such US sites as NY, Washington, DC and Chicago, they stopped for a single night at Cleveland Heights’s Cain Park.

The group’s purpose is to spread their cultural message by bringing the art of capoeira to audiences. Capoeira is the Afro-Brazilian martial art that has become a cultural phenomenon. It is music and movement blended into the elements native to the Brazilian traditions of the samba, candombl√©, and modern dance. It was originated with slaves who used to dance to hide their fighting techniques. It consists of twisting, turning, somersaulting, and posing.

If only the company had stuck to their capoeira task in the program at Cain Park. As is, though the capacity audience gave the troupe a standing ovation, the program was uneven. The very short first segment consisted mainly of singing by four musicians. Because the audience came to see dance, and the quartet was in the orchestra pit below the viewers, and the music was repetitious, the reception was not positive. Many patrons talked all through the musical interludes.

The second act exploded. It was exciting and enthralling. Here, we got to see true capoeira in action. Too bad the whole program didn’t hit that level.

The male dancers were superb, especially the capoeiristas--Francisco Braga, Francisco Dalforne Dos Santos, Danilo Portugal and Leandro Silva.

The printed program did little to help the evening. It gave no hint that what was to be viewed was a series of short dances. It also failed to explain the art of capoeira. It did not explain that there would be as much music as there was dancing. There was no list of the musical or dance offerings so trying to anticipate what was coming, or who was dancing in any segment was impossible. Whoever prepared the program needs to realize that the purpose of the printed words is to aid the audience to understand and appreciate the staged offerings.

In part because of the printed program, and the lack of clarity on the part of the performance programming, the audience was completely caught by surprise when intermission came. People sat, unsure of what to do. The same thing happened at the end when the audience was unaware that the curtain call was in progress.

Capsule Judgement: Segments of DANCE BRAZIL’s presentation were explosive, exciting and enthralling and met the viewer’s high expectations. As a whole, however, this was a somewhat unfulfilling presentation.