Magazine article Dance Magazine

Brazilian Verve in Search of Variety

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Brazilian Verve in Search of Variety

Article excerpt

BRAZILIAN VERVE IN SEARCH
OF VARIETY

CISNE NEGRO
THE JOYCE THEATER
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
JUNE 26-30, 20011

The Cisne Negro company, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, offered a crowd-pleasing blend of admirably schooled dancers, good music, energy, and enthusiasm. What it didn't have (at least on the program offered during a short New York season) were enough choreographers who could tease out a dynamic range of mood in physical terms.

Oddly enough, one of the pieces presented during the company's run purported to do just that. In Case of..., a new work by Dany Bittencourt (daughter of the company's founder and director, Hulda Bittencourt, and now assistant director), was described in the program as "a playful study on me various states of mind the human being is capable of." To lively music by Brazilian composer Tom Ze, the dancers grimaced, gesticulated, and mimed between and alongside sequences of jazzy, hip-hop-influenced dance. An odd mix of European dance-theater-style emoting and cheerful entertainment, the piece actually worked against the choreographer's goal of "expressing the different moods of the soul" by keeping the acting and the dancing in such discrete compartments as to render the relationship arbitrary. The program credited an acting coach, but the work underlined the probability that dancers best express those moods through dancing rather than dramatics.

The upbeat mood of In Case of ... also characterized Mark Baldwin's Danses Concertantes and Rui Moreira's Trama, which respectively opened and closed the evening. To Stravinsky's score of the same title, Baldwin devised a set of perky dances that showed off Cisne Negro's sharp technicians. Quick, sharp steps cut through the space as a group of women in short black dresses were quickly joined by men in black pants and sheer tops, all crisscrossing the stage with slicing, incisive motion. …

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