A psychedelic remix of this dance genre we thought we knew. Jan 29, 2010

by Shango Los

You know that moment when you hear a song playing and think you recognize it? You listen closer, searching for something to help identify it. Then it hits you all at once that the song you are listening to is a cover of a song you love. Such joyful relief! That is the same experience to sit and enjoy Groupa de Rua performing this weekend at On the Boards. Viewers can very easily spot the street hip-hop influence at its core, but what seduces is the genre bending, contemplative and near psychedelic remix of this dance genre we thought we knew. To say the performance H3 is hip-hop and leaving it at that, is akin to calling Francis Bacon a portrait painter and leaving it at that. What Bruno Beltrao accomplishes to create is an engaging study of intimacy within a genre that is traditionally battling bravado. Yes, the strength and physical challenging and breakneck pace of street dancing are there but what is also there is subtle physical touch, dancers physically supporting each other and a quietness, a deep quietness, that brings the audience to a hush. In fact, the majority of the performance is accompanied by nothing more than ocean waves. Taken out of the context of thrumming bass, the choreography is allowed to open itself up and go beyond expectation. Through the vulnerability of not hiding behind a soundtrack, we can lean in to see something quite intimate, almost secret. I am reminded of the scene in war movies where the hero is holding the body of his fallen friend as he dies and giving to him love and compassion amid the gunfire all around.   It is this same masculine intimacy that is generated amidst sharp angled and breathless choreography that makes H3 unlike anything I have seen in 10 years of dance attendance, and for that, I am grateful. A review of this piece would be incomplete without a nod to the lighting design of Renato Machado. The discrete use of stark lighting focuses our attention on the detailed nature of the choreography. Dancers flash in and out of light allowing us to digest snippets of the whole before being moved to another part of the stage. His creative use of distance and spot lighting causes the audience to literally see trails off limbs as they go through intense, repetitive and speedy choreography. Additionally, and in total contrast, Renato uses low lighting that bathes the stage in soft dusks that create a yearning in us to connect to the dancing. You can almost feel the entire audience lean forward. This level of lighting skill, working both extremes to move our eyes to best appreciate the choreography is masterful. In the end, H3 is most likely not at all what you’ll expect from "A Brazilian Hip-Hop Troupe." Bruno Beltrao and his company have created a piece full of technical talent, new choreography and sincere intimacy" and bravado.

TAGS
Bruno Beltrao / dance

Comments

Whoa! I am totally

Whoa! I am totally appetized.

I like what you say that

I like what you say that there is subtle physical touch, dancers physically supporting each other and a quietness, a deep quietness, that brings the audience to a hush. I think it is what make this piece great but also gives audience good amount of challenge. The piece does not ride on the hip-hop beats but really gives us a moment to feel. However, it is a bit hard on my senses like eating premium beef without enough extra seasonings. Is it intentional? It will be more interesting if I can know for sure if it is the effect that the choreographer wants.

Most of the 9 dancers’ physical qualities are too tight for me. The muscles are gripping hard and it’s different to look at than looking at traditional  “modern dance “. If there has been an Q&A, I would want to know what the dancers’ physical training includes. I love the  “masculine intimacy ”, and I am so curious if the dancers have softer physicality, will it give the same effects on presenting the masculine intimacy.

And of course - the lighting design. It was amazing. I felt everything was worth it when the lighting came up. I wanted it to be longer but it didn’t last long before the concert was over. Things so beautiful should not only be a surprise but also a period of enjoyment - my personal view. Good thing is that I can remember how beautiful it is and still see it in my mind.

Glorious Butterly

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