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Choreographer | Rodrigo Pederneiras

“An energy, style and striking sense of theatrical composition.” (The Miami Herald, United States)

Lecuona takes [Pederneiras’s] talent to new heights.” (Estado de Minas, Brazil)

“An then, there are the dazzling performances [in Lecuona that] remind us that dancing can sometimes be sublime. [...] One leaves the theatre in a state of bliss.” (O Estado de São Paulo, Brazil)

Following its acclaimed run in 2002 with O Corpo and 21, Brazilian company Grupo Corpo is once again featured on the Danse Danse lineup! Brazil’s premiere dance troupe, with its twenty terrific dancers, presents a twofold program this time. First up is Rodrigo Pederneiras’s new work, Onqotô, with original music by Brazilian singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso and his associate José Miguel Wisnik. Described by Parisian daily Le Monde as “a one-of-a-kind explorer of the tropical identity,” Veloso is also a cofounder of the Tropicalist movement, which in the late sixties combined a passion for Brazilian traditions with an openness to emerging artistic trends from the United States and Europe. Veloso and Pederneiras were destined to work together creatively, given their common love of Brazilian culture and its contemporary expression. Their new work will premiere in São Paulo in August 2005, then will tour Brazil and North America, where it will stop off at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) in New York.

Next up on the same program is Lecuona, a work first performed in 2004 and consisting of a series of twelve duos representing snapshots of a love affair danced to songs by Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963). Lecuona was a highly popular concert pianist of his time as well as a prolific composer with an astonishing melodic gift. Nicknamed the Cubano Gershwin, he wrote over four hundred songs that were performed by such voices as Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. He also scripted zarzuelas, operettas and vaudeville shows and composed the soundtrack for many Hollywood movies.

“It seems to be on the verge of telling love stories æ markedly Latin passion often undercut by a sense of humour that laughs at it at the same time.” (Estado de Minas, Brazil)

“It makes sense when we think that all these years Corpo has done nothing but enable us to look in a new way at the clichés that are thought to be Brazilian dance. The central issue in Lecuona is precisely to question the clichés. Rodrigo Pederneiras’s choreography takes to other locations (Cuba) the same procedure of investigation he has been developing about Brazil with Corpo. […] The intelligence of it all is simply breathtaking.” (O Estado de São Paulo, Brazil)

Thanks to the combined efforts of Danse Danse and La danse sur les routes du Québec, Grupo Corpo will present the show across the province, in Sherbrooke, Québec City, L’Assomption and Baie-Comeau.

Rodrigo Pederneiras and Grupo Corpo
Considered Brazil’s Jirí Kylián, and company choreographer since 1978, Rodrigo Pederneiras uses the technique and the choreographic structures of ballet while introducing the suppleness of modern dance and, most of all, the sinuousness, the complex rhythmicality and the upper-body work unique to African dance. Guided by the music, the choreographer translates the classical vocabulary in his own way, giving it an identity that is firmly anchored to the ground of Brazil while staying away from folklore and stereotypes. ”He has managed to created the most striking, the most original fusion of dance derived from neoclassical ballet and from elements of Brazilian culture” (Dance Magazine, United States).

Brazil’s first internationally acclaimed choreographer, Rodrigo Pederneiras creates works that are regularly performed by that country’s leading dance companies: City of São Paulo Ballets Corps, the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theatre Ballet Corps and Guaíra Theatre Ballet Corps of Curitiba.

“For more than a quarter-century, brothers Paulo and Rodrigo Pederneiras have been forging an artistic aesthetic for their Brazilian dance company that is as rich and multifaceted as Brazilian culture itself. [...] This distinctive vocabulary performed by vivacious, superbly trained dancers, has helped make the company Brazil’s most successful.” (The Boston Globe, United States)

In fall 2004, Rodrigo Pederneiras was in Montréal to create MAPA, a work commissioned by [bjm_danse] that will visit the United States for a preview tour in spring 2005.

Grupo Corpo was born in 1975 out of the identity crisis then gripping Brazil. At the time, ballet dominated the country’s dance schools, a situation that hasn’t changed. A trained ballet dancer himself who studied under a star of the Ballets Russes, Rodrigo Pederneiras laid claim to a typically Brazilian dance. With his brother Paulo, who shares his aspirations, he set out to create a language that would reflect the complex personality of their country. Based in Belo Horizonte and quartered in the family house, far from the influence of Rio de Janeiro, the tiny company enjoyed greater freedom, and began to distance itself from the rigidity of the European tradition. Three years after its founding, it moved to a theatre where, nearly 25 years later, it’s still headquartered. Today, Grupo Corpo is Brazil’s most successful dance company, at home and abroad. Faithful to its founding ideals, the artistic director, the choreographer and the company’s associate artists continue to write the history of Brazil.

April 2005


Photos | José Luiz Pederneiras