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Grupo Corpo (Brasil)
Choreographer: Rodrigo Pederneiras

O Corpo
& 21

November 14, 15 & 16, 2002
Place des arts

Danse Danse welcomes Brazil’s most illustrious dance company for its Montréal première! Grupo Corpo will present two of its best-known works, 21 and O Corpo at Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place des Arts. Under the direction of Paulo Pederneiras, Grupo Corpo’s 19 dancers “possess non-stop vigor and a remarkable combination of suppleness coupled with strength and rigor. They can summon the joy of moving as readily as its mystery.” Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Created in 1992, 21 has already achieved semi-legendary status in the company’s rich repertoire. With 21, choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras reached a pinnacle never before equaled in the combination of the multiplicity of influences, redefining Brazilian dance in the process. “He has managed to create the most striking, the most original fusion of dance derived from neoclassical ballet and from elements of Brazilian culture,” says Dance Magazine. The program to be presented in Montréal also includes O Corpo (2000), one of the company’s most recent productions.

Grupo Corpo’s singularity lies in the unique style imprinted upon it by Rodrigo Pederneiras. Considered Brazil’s Jiri Kylián, and company choreographer since 1978, 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 rythmicality and the upper-body work unique to African dance. “The movement style that choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras has developed looks nothing like any American modern dance I've seen. Also striking is Pederneiras's multidimensionnal sense of composition and the theatrical unity of the group's costumes, sets and music.” The Herald.

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

When brothers Paulo and Rodrigo Pederneiras founded Grupo Corpo in 1975, Brazil was in the midst of an identity crisis. Ballet reigned supreme in the country’s dance academies—as it still does today. Himself a student of Tatiana Leskova, star of Les Ballets Russes, Rodrigo Pederneiras was searching for another creative outlet, a form of movement that he could call his own. Rodrigo and his brother Paulo laid claim to a typically Brazilian dance form which, beyond the wounds inflicted by colonialism, 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 theater where, nearly 25 years later, it still maintains its headquarters. 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, through the quiver or the vigor of the undulating body, to write the history of Brazil.

Dance critic Rui Fontana Lopez puts it this way: “The rigorous precision more commonly associated with classical ballet, the perfection of the finishing touches and the impeccable technical mastery of their productions have brought dignity to the Brazilian stage and have generated a standard of quality Grupo Corpo which, happily, today serves as an inspiration to all Brazilian artistic productions.”

April 2002

Photos : José Luiz Pederneiras