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Terra Brasil

Imagine fourteen gifted and completely dedicated dancers accompanied by the same amount of superb musicians. Imagine one of the most talented modern choreographers and artistic directors of the day and add a masterful Brazilian percussionist and musical director teaming up to transform a cold Toronto winters night into one of the hottest shows around imagine then, Terra Brasil. If you were one of the lucky three hundred or so people in attendance at the show, no need to imagine. The program indicated that the natural elements of Water, Earth, Fire and Air would be interpreted through movement and music. The show opened with a projection showing a wild ocean the song that was performed was percussion heavy a light horn section rolling in the background, a singer far off to stage right chanting and invoking some ancient spiritual spell that seemed to cast a net over the theatre and set the tone for the Yemanja - The Goddess of the Sea to dance on stage and in a shimmering costume of blue and silver she swayed, undulating in time to the rhythmic pulse, a wavelike calm, a soothing effect.

The next song mixed Brazilian pop with ancient cultural traditions as the guitarist sang Na Beira Do Mar - On The Edge Of The Sea. A group of dancers surrounds the Goddess, they dance for her and with her they create excitement and continue to paint a beautiful, warm and enticing portrait of the element of water. The hook is set, the net ready.

When dance utilizes live music and it comes together seamlessly there is nothing quite like it in levels of energy and excitement. To put twenty eight people on stage for a one night show takes a lot of ambition. You require courage and conviction; you must have a tremendous love for your art form and your artists. This was much more than a dance performance; this was a spiritual movement that combined all of the audience’s senses. The visual, the audio, the imagination were all crafted for maximum effect. When you were meant to envision the element of water you actually felt very close to the sea. The percussion sounds emulated the ocean perfectly; the dancer’s movements flowed and rolled. Dancers and musicians as one portrayed the power and the beauty of this natural wonder. The lighting and visual effects set the ambiance in balance with the music and the dance. Fire had your senses tingling with warmth. Earth created a grounded feeling that was both raw and natural. Air had the dancers moving with such velocity you could feel the wind in your face.

The line up of musicians in accompaniment of the dancers featured Toronto’s rising stars. Divine Brown primarily known as an R&B Diva with a voice that is accustom to belting out soulful tunes, such that a steam roller has come and gone. She gave her spiritual best as an enchantress awakening the spirit of Yemanja and setting the current to flow powerfully. The vocalist Luanda Jones gave freely of her Brazilian heritage in singing authentic traditional songs with passion and soul. The newcomers to Toronto, direct from Brazil - Carlinhos Cardozo guitar and vocal, bassist Weber Oliveira and Jonathan Amador. Keyboard player Joel Visentin. Kervin Barreto, trumpet, Christopher Butcher, trombone and Anton Bogdanov on saxophone, lightened the music with melodic offerings that enticed the spirits. The percussionists, Josue Correia, Stacey Armstrong, Jonathan Rothman, John Larosa, Norm Jones and Contra Mestre Bola combined to bare their souls beating out the rhythms of nature. Beats associated with ancient times, Afro Brazilian through to the modern rhythms of contemporary jazz. I am convinced that Afro Brazilian percussion is an elixir for the soul.

The first half of the show covered two natural elements, Water as previously mentioned, as the opener and Earth to close out the first half. Earth Terra featured six dancers in grass skirts, they performed a piece as choreographed by Contra Mestre Bola. Bola is a renowned martial artist in the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira. The male dancers, Eduardo Silva, Wendel Puziol Aguilera and Stacey Armstrong created an electric vibe that audibly sizzled with the heat of raw testosterone as they moved in a wild, animalistic fashion. Envision panthers in search of prey. Their prey, three equally hot female dancers the male dancers fought the females in Capoeira fashion with rapid movements, high flying technique and incredible athleticism. The females held their own they performed the movements of Capoeira in balletic slow motion. All the while the music pounded in glorified African tradition of heart to heart communication that culminated in an explosion of breath taking excitement.

The second half of the show featured the elements of Fire and Air. There were moments through out the show when I was physically moved by the intensity of the performance of these dancers. The spirit of the music and the ideal of the dances were portrayed in a manner that was realistic to an ancient ritualistic type of dance. I was waiting for a live sacrifice to be made at any moment. The emotion, an emotion that seemed to change as rapidly as the percussionist’s downbeat, ranged from joy to anger and everything in between. When Xango the God of Fire came out on stage I had chills running up my spine. The performance was dark, dangerous and utterly fascinating.

The positive points on this production: great music, great dancers (Kaitlin Torrance, Kimberly Chin, Lina Jimenez Nykwist, Melissa Noventa, Miranda Liverpool, Natasha Phanor, Patrizia Gianforcaro, Rosemarie Stea, Sonia Awad, Jaimee Horn, Adrianna Yanuziello), costumes, live musicians, choreography, lighting and how seamless it all came together. The flow was as smooth and as pin point accurate as any show I have ever witnessed. Kudos to artistic director and choreographer Adrianna Yanuziello and musical director Contra Mestre Bola.

The negative points: more! There should have been more Capoeira. There should have been more Divine Brown, her spirit lingered - so perhaps this was a director’s tease. More, a show that flows so smoothly is one that is over too soon. The audience agreed as they gave a standing ovation and received a cast bow for their efforts. Bravo on a show well done Dance Migration and looking forward to the next winter heat wave in blustery Toronto.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dance Migration
  • Concert Date: 12/5/2009
  • Subtitle: Heating Up Toronto
  • Venue: Isabel Bader Theatre
  • City State Country: Toronto, Ontario
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