Tuesday, 21 February 2017

New language, new culture

The evening after my return to the boat, we found that the Cultural Centre in Lagos was holding a dance performance with music by the great Brazilian composer, Villa-Lobos. Lovely, we have definitely chosen the right place to spend the winter months... We joined the small audience in the theatre and waited expectantly. In the programme for the performance I found a delightful quote by Paul Binnerts, theatre director and drama teacher, working in Amsterdam and New York:
The intimate and delicate performance was like a dialogue between the dancer and the musician /guitar player, as if they were talking with each other about secrets only they knew about. But we understood them anyway.
The dancer was Simone Marcal (the "c" pronounced as "s") and the guitarist Josue Nunes. The choreography and stageing was by Tela Leao. I found it enthralling. The solo dancer took us through the centuries of Brazilian dance, changing costume on the stage, never losing our attention, occasionally calling out some words in Portuguese, holding a mimed dialogue with Josue the guitarist, who sat at the side of the stage performing with virtuosic skill, while Simone made breathtaking leaps, somersaults and thoughtful glissades, from time to time approaching the very edge of the stage and communicating with us the audience using her most expressive face!
Here a quote about the final section:
Etude no. 11 in E minor
This etude has a melodic line that sounds like the ritual dances of the Brazilian Indians during the Quarup ceremony honouring the dead. With this music we evoke and pay tribute to our own dead. The choreography ends with a reference to the first steps of The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky, choreographed by Nijinsky, which opened in 1913, the same year that Villa-Lobos's compositions were published.
I found that neatly pleasing. I notice there will be another performance on 4 March quite near Lagos and am wondering if we could attend it...
The dancing reminded me a little of my former tenant, the dancer Eilit Marom, now teaching in Haifa, I believe; she developed her special style of movement, combining lithe gymnastic-like use of the body, built upon what is clearly a structure of classical ballet steps. A joy to watch.
Having spent several years (pre-teens) enthralled by ballet and a devotee of the English magazine Dance and Dancers, I still find it entrancing to watch dance that has developed out of classical ballet, adding other less rigid movement and sometimes voice, yet retaining the discipline of the plies and the petits-battements... (sorry about the missing accents...).

So here we are in a quiet corner of the Algarve, the pounding sea across the street, watching and listening to a performance that transported us to the far forests of Brazil, another culture and a new language of rhythm and movement .
Each morning as light gleams across the water I look out of my cabin porthole into the openness outside and if I could, I'd do a grand-jete (yes, accents missing!) off the boat, onto the bouncing pontoon and on and on...
It is a long time since I've done that!

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