The authentic and charismatic Brazilian Dance Company
By Geovana Peres da Costa
The Grupo Corpo has had such a special trajectory in the Brazilian dance world and also around the world since 1975. Based in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais – Brazil, the contemporary dance company is lead by director and founder Paulo Pederneiras and Choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras. Before the pandemic time Grupo Corpo always has been performing around the world but after this challenge time, they are in Europe again, bringing back their powerful repertoires to the stages. At this time the repertoire choosed are “Breu” and “Primavera” and it is very interesting because one was done by 2007 and the other was wrapped just in 2021, but now is showing the audience complet different contexts, concept and sensations.
The first ballet of the evening is “Breu” which debuted in 2007 and was very disruptive especially for the character of the movements in consideration of all the other repertoires from Rodrigo Pederneiras as a choreographer since then. In order to follow also the challenge soundtrack from the Brazilian composer Lenine, the choreographer let all the usual features of his movements to a ballet featuring forms that are harsher, more angular and more powerful that its predecessors with a super mastery.
The second creation “Primavera” brings the soundtrack from Palavra Cantada – a Brazilian duo of singers/composers. The ballet was created during the pandemic time, in 2021, so the concept is also on the idea of new beginnings, the breeze of hope and joy. All this atmosphere lives in each detail as the scenario, costume, music, illumination, monochromatic colors and real time projections. What is definitely very interesting to watch the Brazilian dance company is the facility and versatility that they have as in the concept, ideias, feelings and how they bring it into the entire dramaturgy. The performance can really surrender the essence of art and not just entertainment. This evening carried me from one side to the other with such mastery and it is great to watch a performance which offers you this sensation and leaves you with a lot to reflect about.
In a short interview with Paulo Pederneiras I ask a little bit more about the Grupo Corpo and their repertoire.
Photos: José Luiz Pederneiras
Nowadays it is very comun the companies and the choreographers think for the concept and movements, beyond to differentiate themselves from the others and from the usual. It is perceptive and admirable the disruption of patterns and provocations that Grupo Corpo somehow brings in the context of dance throughout its journey and their works point to great personality and authenticity. In what way was “Breu” not only a water divisor for the construction of new movement proposals for Rodrigo Pederneiras‘s language as a choreographer? Could it be considered a reflection for the context of the Dance world nowadays, especially when it comes to knowing how to differentiate yourself in the dance world?
We don’t have this market concern, we do what we think it is time to do, because we believe very much in art beyond entertainment. Maybe is that question very much in the natural of the essence of our dance company and somehow we were able to visualize that repercussion only years after the impact on the dance scene. Even it made us different and authentic by always seeking to do something we never did before.I remember on the first years of the company to insist very much for who was taking care of the creative process, to do things out of the comfort zone.
Having as reference the new creation and work “Primavera”: How does the creation process of The Grupo Corpo works usually happen? What comes first and what do you value in the work? Could you please comment on how you choose the composers, artists who will participate in the production?
We presume a line of reasoning, especially for the choreographer, but the process takes shape as we progress, that is the fun of it, of not having a recipe and not being something fixed. The Grupo Corpo always values commissioned music from Brazilian artists, where they have all the freedom to create. This choice is so much about the entire idea of the ballet in creation. We always want to do something different from what we have already done.
The piece “Primavera” had its premiere during a pandemic year, what was the biggest challenge you faced in creating this ballet? How did you manage, even in difficult times, to adapt to the pandemic scenario?
The challenge was to think not about the concept of the ballet, but about the format for online. For the first time we wanted to have both things happening: live, but at the same time being transmitted in real time on cell phones, since in technological times, the performance might be happening live in front of you, and maybe the person would even prefer to watch it on the cell phone – jokes Paulo. So we realized that in a digital age, it would not be so easy to reconcile this idea as we thought at first.
Did the choice of partnering with the Palavra Cantada have any relation? Because they make music for children, so as to bringing this lightness to the show, due to the difficult pandemic context? What was the motivation for choosing this partnership?
Yes, the choice of Palavra Cantada was purposeful, because the ballet “Primavera” was conceived in the idea of a children’s show, to bring this idea of lightness and joy. Just as the name of the ballet was purposely chosen because it is after winter and was premiered during springtime in Brazil, i.e. a new season beginning, just as we expected it to be with the pandemic years.
As the director of one of the professional dance companies that represents Brazil, what do you want to leave as a mark on this world? What is the message to be presented trough your art?
This thing of “leaving something “I think is a bit presumptuous, because I think that someone who leaves something doesn’t need to have this concern, you do it in an honest way, in an artistic way, and all the rest is just a consequence of a good job, the concern is with the next ballet that we don’t even have time to think about this concern. We are a group, as the name says, we are a collective. I am the director, because it needs one, obviously I know my responsibility but there are many people involved who make the whole thing happen and without them it would be absolutely impossible.
What was the criteria this time for choosing the repertoire for the European tour?
The choice is a series of factors that will determine this. We have recently gone through a major renewal of dancers as well. In the case of “Breu”, it was a request from the dancers themselves, and the ballet “Primavera” because of the recent pandemic years and because it is one of our new productions.
Opening this Grupo Corpo double bill, Rodrigo‘s Pederneiras ballet “Primavera” is for me besides the concept. But believing that can be very connecting too, it brings the sensation of pure innocence and lightness of a childhood and invites the audience to a trip back home, on safety zone and joy feelings. It is powered even more because also of the soundtrack from Palavra Cantada, which in this case brought the very light atmosphere and the absence of the lyrics seemed like it became and was replaced into the dancer’s bodies as movements. As in a child’s play, the ballet has passed very fast and the farewell in the end with a warm hug brings the feeling of wanting to watch more and keeping in these good feelings forever.
The second act with ballet “Breu”, comes to the extreme and impressive opposite of ideas. The sensation for me as an audience was fear, alert/dangerous state, uncomfortable, agony. Since the entire dramaturgy until the feelings that this ballet can give to you, I found myself on another trip, but at this time on a very bad one. Also impressive is the use of the dancers as a group more in this piece than in “Primavera” and this gives much more power, the communication is completely different with the audience. It is very powerful and unique.It is for real not just about violence in general but it represents all the time physical violence as well, with precise strong movements and sometimes even movements as in free fall. This is the kind of ballet that you end up saying “Wow!”