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DANCEBRAZIL & Mestre Jelon no New York Times

There was enough appreciative whistling to make a construction worker blush at Skirball Center at New York University on Saturday night, when DanceBrazil rolled through town with its crowd-pleasing style of high-octane, high-flying, pelvis-swiveling choreography. And let’s not forget the revealing costumes: the phrase “six-pack abs” doesn’t begin to do these folks justice.

Act II of “Ritmos,” or rhythms, by DanceBrazil’s artistic director, Jelon Vieira, was true to its title. Accompanied by Tote Gira’s live, percussive feast of a score, the work moved between silky samba sections and explosions of capoeira, Brazil’s martial arts dance. The performers, all men save for two women, might spend a bit less time hamming it up for the crowd and a bit more focusing on the intimate social dynamics that can make capoeira — with its spinning, lashing kicks and power moves executed in close quarters — so captivating. Still, it’s hard to be grumpy in the face of such an unabashed display of bravado, especially by dancers like these, whose rhythmic intelligence elevates sometimes stock material.

“Inura,” a premiere by the former Alvin Ailey dancer Carlos dos Santos Jr., is more ambitious, described in program notes as an exploration of the energy associated with the Yoruba deity Exu. Tania León’s score, which she conducted, features a spookily strange chorus and intriguing orchestration, creating a richly ritualistic mood. Here the women are given more to do, often taking central roles in sensual, impressionistic passages that meld capoeira with a modern fusion of styles reminiscent of Ailey.

These passages, like Manny Vega’s costumes, are sometimes more fussy than complex. Yet the eye and ears are drawn in and inclined to linger. CLAUDIA LA ROCCO


Dance Company

Baryshnikov Arts Center

“This is old school,” my neighbor said to me in a stage whisper during intermission at Laura Pawel’s dance program at the Baryshnikov Arts Center on Friday night. “Very Sarah Lawrence.” Ms. Pawel, who formed her company in 1968 after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, approaches movement from a pedestrian, post-Judson Dance Theater aesthetic. There is a good deal of talking while moving; and the dancing, characterized by skipping, walking and shuffling, isn’t strenuous but deftly composed. Ms. Pawel experiments with improvisation within set choreographic structures.

Dancing with Ms. Pawel in the short trilogy of dances, “Sphinx,” “Phoenix” and “Griffins,” Pamela Finney was a grounded, austere counterpart to the choreographer’s lissome walks on demipoint and wiggling fingers. But the majority of works were for the group. In “Brambles,” from 2007, the dancers slyly commented on the aging process while contrasting off-kilter phrases with stillness. “I didn’t bump my head on the corner of anything today, and it doesn’t hurt,” Ms. Finney observed with deadpan flair.

The approach of talking and dancing extended to Ms. Pawel’s “There Might Be Mangoes,” a premiere for six brightly costumed performers set to live jazz music by the Cecilia Coleman Quartet. While the lines were funny in “Brambles” because the dancers seemed unaware of their humor, the dialogue was overly self-conscious in “Mangoes.” For Ms. Pawel to succeed in making an old form look alive, innocence can’t be sacrificed for a laugh. GIA KOURLAS

DanceBrazil members performing Jelon Vieira’s “Ritmos.”
Published: March 22, 2009

Skirball Center
for the Performing Arts


Mulheres Guerreiras Capoeiras

A escravidão migra do campo para as cidades e os escravos e escravas de ganho tornam-se essênciais nas cidades de São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador e Minas Gerais; estes escravos deviam gerar renda para seu próprio sustento e os que ainda não eram libertos, além disto deveriam levar parte do ganho aos seus senhores. Estes eram denominados pelos brancos como “boçais” quando não dominavam a língua portuguesa e “ladinos” aos que aqui nasciam ou chegavam após a proibição do tráfico em 1850. O comércio por eles promovido era o mais diversificado possível, de alimentos à utensílios domésticos.
Entre os negros e negras de ganho havia uma certa hierarquia a ser respeitada de acordo com o ganho e a etnia Malé, Ijexá, Cabinda, Nagô, Bantu… As mulheres escravas e forras que se dedicavam ao comércio muitas vezes eram consideradas inadequadas e imorais por se defenderem publicamente de agressões à elas causadas por fiscais da Coroa Portuguesa. Elas procuravam defender seus filhos e mercadorias do abuso português. Vamos falar um pouco destas guerreiras, Aqualtune, Dandara, Eva Maria do Bonsucesso, Teresa de Benguela, Luísa Mahin e outras.
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