Viver Brazil Brings Culture, Capoeira, and Dance to Cerritos
By Glen Creason
The Cerritos Center
for the Performing Arts just happens to be the perfect place for dance performances from all over the world. It is such good fortune for locals that we can learn about other cultures in such a stimulating way with the music and choreography of places as exotic and far flung as all the continents on planet earth, excepting possibly Antarctica
. On a rather energized Saturday the group Viver Brazil
visited, not from South America
but Los Angeles
where the troupe formed in 1997 to show this amazing Brazilian dance culture to the rest of America
. This is an uncompromising show with live music, non-stop singing and spirited choreography put together by a husband and wife team of Linda Yudin and Luiz Badaro. The six pieces performed were unique unto themselves but are all based on centuries old traditions of Brazilian folklore and religion.
The opening piece with dancers in pure white was a celebration of the tradition of the Great Spirit. This dance to Orixas was the connection to their own cultures by slaves brought from Africa
which they integrated into Brazilian life. With five percussionists providing a textured and rhythmic beat the ten dancers turned the stage into fascinating tableaux of color and movement. The second piece turned to the broadest exploration of the “Great Chain of Life” that saw synchronicity punctuated by breakout solos in an extremely intricate and demanding style of modern dance. Remarkable throughout was the robust singing of Katia Moraes, providing a narrative that rose above even the thundering drums of five tireless drummers. Ms. Moraes is a vocal powerhouse who seems ready to sing at full throttle all night long.
The second half was even more engaging with the initial piece “identity” trying to connect the artists on stage with the people in the audience. It also included a finish with a flourish, an extremely physical mixture of dance and gymnastics based on capoeira (a mixture of martial arts, dance and sports training) by Leandro DaSilva that left the audience agog and caused a sigh or two from ladies in attendance. “In Motion” was the highlight of the entire show with the dancers turned loose for some full out expression on a canvas “painted” with sound and motion of another Brazilian martial arts called Samba de Roda spiced by contemporary West African and Brazilian dance moves. One of the most compelling parts of the entire performance is that the dancers really work hard and are not afraid to show sweat which demonstrates the passion of the dance. There was plenty of perspiration and plenty of passion. There was just a small break with a charming duet between Katia Moraes and Vania Amaral comparing Rio
that good-naturedly called out each region that then blended into a wild finale celebrating Carnaval. Here the dancers used the tradition of blocos afro
or parading in groups to show community and affection for the society. In dazzling costume and dancing that seemingly defied bodily limits the Viver Brazilians seemed as fresh and strong as in the opening number while warming the big hall with a particular Brazilian glow.