Augusto Soledade, once again, presented an entertaining and visually stimulating evening in his latest exploration into identity and shared personal experience. There was no story, yet each section had a purpose and a meaning ranging from an intimate look into each dancer’s personal experience to a view into culture and abandon that ultimately culminated with the final realization and affirmation that we are all human. Each movement had a reason to be.
As the audience was led into the performance space Backstage at the Gleason, there was austere silence and stillness as mounds of dancers remained immobile and quiet on the dimly lit stage. There was a simple and unobtrusive patched back drop of white clumps created by the visual artist, Kandy Lopez. Slowly the music built while the fetal dancers remained motionless on the floor. It was almost jarring to hear and feel the intensity of the engulfing music, created by Jessica Muñiz- Collado, while seeing no motion at all coming from the dancers. The feeling was unfamiliar. One started to relax after a period. It was OK to just be.
Oh, so slowly, the dancers started moving, fingers, head, a twitch of the foot until they morphed into individual small low hunched figures, occasionally bouncing, eyes always closed. The movements were so slow that they were almost imperceptible. We were watching birth. Everyone going through the same process regardless of race, color, gender.
All the dancers stood abruptly and we were led into a duet with the dramatic and impactful Manuela Sanchez and the legato Edwin Carvalho. The two dancers were very different dynamically, but blended beautifully in their twists, lifts and curves. Carvalho continued alone in a snakey solo that showed his length and legato quality.
The club-like “voguing” section, while seemingly tongue-and-cheek, carried undertones of reality and wildness. The voguing era, the late 1980s evolution sparked by the Madonna song, was like that. A dynamic Bruno Jacques-Louis was an impressive master of ceremonies. With dancers as characterized examples, he spoke of The Beach Body, Splashing in the Rain, Big Hair and C’est La Vie.. At one point, the audience was asked to vote on whose hair was the most impressive, and big. We are always competing to be the best. Transferring to a dancing role, Jacques-Louis was an impressive and expansive mover that took over the stage with his jumps and extensions
Selfies offer us the ability to show the world whatever we want them to see. Sanchez writhed in an angst ridden and turbulent solo. In a sharp contrast, she put on a smiling face and roamed throughout the audience taking selfies.
One of the most powerful sections included all six dancers in a complex and exhausting caper with chairs. Standing on, jumping over, crawling through, even leaning sideways on the chairs, the dancers unified, merged and blended in an intensely engulfing episode. The dancers all fell to their knees like a herd of cattle in a signature knee walk. It seemed no matter what happened internally, that fitting in was always a priority.
Everyone peered at and then offered support to Raina Mitchell in her intimate solo. The entire performance showed the various states of existence through personal vignettes with an extensive array of movement qualities and styles.
The small ensemble of six included the elegant Amanda Ruiz and the mature Elkey Love. Carvalho has been working with Brazzdance as the recipient of the Artistic Mobility grant from the State of Bahia Department of Cultural Affairs. This grant is part of an exploratory project supported by the Brazilian government to fund artists specifically coming from Brazil to work in international settings. The grant is only for a month's time, but we hope Carvalho is able to return to Southern Florida.
The evening completed with each dancer covering themselves with glow paint. As the lights faded and they glowed in the darkness, the final word, spoken passionately and vehemently by all of the dancers, was "HUMAN."
Brazzdance begins its next season in January 2018. To find out more go to, www.brazzdance.com.