Baila Brazil @ The Royal Festival Hall Review

Baila, which translates as ‘dances’ in Spanish, could not sum up the Southern American landscape any better! Dance is an integral part of the continent’s culture, it’s an alternative language that allows for the articulation of expression, restoration of history, socialisation with members of the community… It is one of the life forces of the continent.

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Bale de Rua, a Brazilian dance troupe hailing from the favelas of Uberlândia have risen the ranks to perform at some of the world’s most exciting events, and continue to dazzle at the prestigious Royal Festival Hall. Baila Brazil starts as it means to go on, with an unstoppable charisma that fuels the evening’s proceedings.

What is immediately evident about the production is the sense of community that echoes throughout the evening. Majority of the sequences are performed in unison, with most or all of the company mesmerising the audience with a range of dance styles. It’s the start of the show, the curtains are drawn, a performer emerges from the wings, dressed in a white suit and hat immediately rendering the images of Michael Jackson’s iconic Smooth Criminal phase. Hypnotising footwork covers every inch of the stage, the heart thumping calls of the drum draw in the audience from the drop of a hat.

Precision, collaboration and passion are all factors present in all of the performers throughout the evening. Moved close to tears at the performances’ beginnings, the audience are treated to the company’s fire, as well as their grace. Adorned in patterned materials, the male-strong cast devote a sequence to the mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and sisters of their community, repetitively focusing their energy to the sun or the gods. The piece is powerful and a joy to watch.

Dancers are given the opportunity to showcase their individual talents, with spotlights focusing the attention onto the dancing styles of Krump, Popping and Locking, Samba, Capoeira and Contemporary Dance. It’s beautiful to see these dance styles showcased on a prevalent stage, and performed with such conviction. I have my reservations as I’m left awe inspired after the opening sequence, however my reservations are dismissed, a thing of the past!

Dance performances explore certain aspects of Brazilian culture, from the painful look back to the dark days of slavery and colonialisation,mthe embracing of Northern American dance culture and the music that decorates the streets of Brazil. The images evoke powerful images of slave ships and chains that only brush the surface of that dark period in Brazilian history. This segment in itself could be developed further into a powerful piece of dance theatre educating audiences about Afro-Brazilian culture and history.

The musical accompaniment is a treat. Alexia Falcão Lopes soothes with her power and soulful vocals. Bursting into Sergio MendesMas Que Nada, the evening appeals to those not accustomed to Portuguese. Pedro Ferreira on Keyboards, Eduardo José Deolindo on Bass Guitar,Luiz Ricardo Ferreira on Guitar and Cavaquinho and Lopes on the trumpet all continue on the musical language with gusto, Really giving the evening its dynamic edge. The evening is fun, emotional and a great introduction to the many dance styles that influence the residents of Brazil today. Baila Brazil is a dance show not afraid of purely showcasing dance without a narrative! 4/5

Review written by Lucy Basaba.

Baila Brazil is currently showing at the Royal Festival Hall until Saturday 15th August. For more information on the production, visit here…

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