Grupo Corpo Brings a Celebration of Afro-Brazilian Culture in Two Regional Premieres
Mesmerizing rhythms, electrifying movements and spinning spiritualism burst onstage as Brazil’s renowned contemporary dance ensemble Grupo Corpo returns to Boston’s Boch Center Shubert Theatre October 28 and 29th. Presented by Celebrity Series of Boston, the celebratory performance marks Grupo Corpo’s return to the city for the first time since 2018.
“We are thrilled for the return of Grupo Corpo to Boston after their unforgettable performances in 2018,” said Gary Dunning, President and Executive Director of Celebrity Series of Boston. “With themes of spiritual, musical, and cultural renewal, this new performance acknowledges how everything has changed since we last welcomed the company. Yet, their signature, unique blend of Afro-Brazilian culture and innovative choreography retains its power to inspire and ignite audiences.”
This performance comprises two recent works created by Grupo Corpo’s chief choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras, a former company dancer. Gira is inspired by the Umbanda religion that blends West African, Catholic, and other spiritual practices in which celebrants enter a state of altered consciousness, releasing control of their bodies to the spirits of ancestors, deities and inhabitants of the demi-monde.
Pederneiras’ choreography for Gira weaves joyful energy and acts of devotion into a spectacle that ponders humanity’s relationship to the supernatural and divine. With endless energy, and flowing white linen skirts designed by Freusa Zechmeister, Grupo Corpo dancers create a controlled abandon onstage, incorporating Umbanda’s ecstatic spinning and profound ritual gestures. The music by São Paulo’s avant-jazz trio Metá Metá is a propulsive soundscape of voices, instruments and electronics that fuels the movement onstage.
The predecessor to Pederneiras’ 2022 work Gil Refazendo – called simply Gil – was created in 2019 to new contemporary music by Gilberto Gil, a groundbreaking pioneer of 1960s Brazilian Tropicália whose living legacy of culture and political activism extends far beyond his homeland. Three years later, through the years of the COVID pandemic, the choreographer reimagined the earlier work (refazendo translates roughly to “remade”) in response to that global crisis, completely rebuilding the choreography.
Gil’s soundtrack is a decidedly electronic take on his own beloved musical catalog that blends samba, bossa nova, and rock. Performers in casually elegant raw linen shirts and suits, also by Zechmeister, dance in clear white lights before a slow-moving background image of regenerating sunflowers both designed by Paulo Pederneiras who, incidentally, founded the company in 1975.
The performance is a testament to the power of music and dance to bridge cultures, renew life, and create a shared experience.
Grupo Corpo performs Sat., October 28 at 8pm and Sun., October 29 at 3pm, at the Boch Center Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont Street in Boston. Tickets for Grupo Corpo’s performances start at $35 and are available at celebrityseries.org or the Celebrity Series Box Office at (617) 482-6661.