Baila Brazil at Royal Festival Hall
What can only be described as tribal screams are heard from behind the closed curtains at Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall and fervent anticipation is high. Founded and directed by Marco Antônio Garcia, Fernando Narduchi and José Marciel Silva, dance company Balé de Rua (Street Ballet) is here for a short stint this summer, bringing the vivacious, pounding heart of Brazil’s carnival spirit with them. Already seen by 500,000 people across 13 countries, tonight’s show promises to dazzle spectators with a raw fusion of live music, song and dance, from street to capoeira to hip-hop, wrapped around all-out Afro-Brazilian aesthetic celebration.
Consisting of 15 dancers, curiously all male bar one, and a female singer, all backed by an impressive live band sitting amid a huge industrial scaffold set, it begins with a blend of the sacred and the samba. Ave Maria is given a Latin treatment — the amusement at witnessing males in robes is not lost on the grinning cast — that sets off the sheer physical strength and athleticism on display for the next uninterrupted 90 minutes. Depending on one’s point of view, the star of the show is either the immensely soulful singer or the dancers that lightly move and run their routines around her for most of the set. Or both.
There is supposed to be some narrative of Brazil’s history but it is difficult to make out, being sung in Portuguese. But attention given to the slavery episode of the Brazil’s history some 350 years ago is very clear, with dimmed lights, reduced tempo and, most obvious, shackles weighing heavy on the cast. This Shame is done well and with a dignity that touches on poignant, particularly against the feel-good juxtaposition of the rest of the show. The music goes on and evolves into hip-hop and modern R&B at one point, the choreography following suit with a breakdance-off. Onlookers give rapturous applause that rivals the extended and deserved ovation at the show’s finish.
Baila Brazil‘s cast is born to perform, and with the Olympics in Brazil next year, they are going about the right way of building up a lasting frisson of excitement over what their colourful culture has to offer
Baila Brazil is on at Royal Festival Hall from 5th August until 15th August 2015, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch a trailer of the show here: