The Balé boys are back in town
From the very streets of Uberlândia, Balé de Rua reaches out across the stages of the world
Eighteen years ago, three friends from the peripheries of Uberlândia, the core city of the Brazilian region of Triângulo Mineiro, began to meet up with other local youths to celebrate street culture, challenging the opinions of many who claimed that dance wouldn’t lead anywhere. Marco Antônio Garcia, Fernando Narduchi and José Maciel Silva consequently embarked on a journey fueled with determination and “fighting spirit”, as Fernando himself declares. Without recognition from the press or governmental support, the group continued for eight years, pursuing an individual style in which a Brazilian ethos could be manifested within the culture hip hop.
The prospects of Balé de Rua started to take shape in 2002 when they received a state prize that guaranteed contracts for its participants as professional ballet dancers. It was then possible to dedicate themselves entirely to dance, and the group continued its work until 2002, when a performance at the Lyon Dance Biennal awoke the curiosity of the producer Pierre Morand. And thus a new phase of the company was born, highlighted by its international focus and its consequent success.
The show, which goes by the same name as the group, is the product of a collaboration that started in 2006, with the Frenchman Paul Desveaux, when he visited Brazil to help structure the performance. Thus Balé de Rua succeeds in combining the local and the international, the street and the stage; and that’s what lets them run an educational project offering complimentary dance classes to young people on the peripheries of society. The group that pioneered their operation without any support, today opens doors for people that would otherwise find it extremely challenging to access this type of encouragement.
Ballet dancer Sandra Mara, the only woman at Balé de Rua, has worked, among other things, as a hairdresser. She mentions her “desire to win” as a defining characteristic in the production. Stimulating beginners to always believe in their ideals, she informs us that this time the performance returns to London with the addition of a live singer, and she warns the public to expect plenty of Brazilian energy because the group is really going to “lift the audience”. So now we just have to wait for the group to arrive and make their entrance!
The Top 3 reasons
1 – Free post-show Samba: Every Tuesday, after being energised by the highly-charged performance, the audience will have the chance to let this vibe flow through them with free samba classes
2 – Support the project: Balé de Rua doesn’t have any permanent funding so tours are their main source of income, allowing them to rent space and provide projects for the local community
3 – For the music: Beyond the beats performed by the dancers and live singer, the show’s soundtrack is attractive in itself – featuring original music from Vincent Artaud, Pedro Ferreira and Naná Vasconcelos, along with traditional Brazilian tunes.
From the outside in
Stage director Paul Desveaux spoke about his love for Brazilian culture and their people, who, for him, are all about living in the moment. “In Brazil, people smile a lot, as if they were always saying that they’re happy to be here, at this moment”. He believes that this quality of being “into life” is the very spirit of the show, and points to the dancers’ readiness to try new movements and ideas during rehearsals. Paul, who visited a Candomblé temple during one of his trips to Brazil, told us that over there “people get you, understand you, share with you”. And the Frenchman believes that with this open attitude it’s possible – as Balé de Rua does – to approach relevant issues such as the enslavement of Africans during Brazil’s colonial era. “If we can talk about this subject with a big smile, so much the better”, he said. No doubt that the smiles will be contagious!
By Mafê Toledo
Balé de Rua @ Peacock Theatre
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