BY ERIN STEELE
Daily Arts Writer
Published January 20, 2011
Watching modern Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo is like drinking a cold Diet Coke on a hot summer afternoon — rejuvenating, enlivening and joyous. Arriving in Ann Arbor for the first time since 2002, Grupo Corpo will bring its fizzy refreshment to the University as it performs at the Power Center this Friday and Saturday.
Tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m.
Tickets from $18
Grupo Corpo was founded in 1975 by artistic director Paulo Pederneiras and has since dazzled the international dance scene with its innovative choreography. The group performs in more than 80 shows each year, in countries including Lebanon, Japan, Mexico and Israel. The company’s Portuguese name is translated into English as “Body Group,” reflecting its mission to use the body as an instrument in creating vibrant modern dance with strong Brazilian roots.
Michael Kondziolka, the University Musical Society’s director of programming, worked to include Grupo Corpo in the 2011 artistic season. He described the choreography as “extraordinarily athletic and high-energy” with an emphasis on precision and clarity.
“(The performance is) really focused very much on the bodies and the choreography,” Kondziolka said. “A lot of the time it will be just pure dance onstage.”
Grupo Corpo’s style of dance consists mainly of modern choreography with balletic influences, as well as hints of samba and Afro-Brazilian movement. This weekend, the company will perform “Parabelo” and “Ima,” both choreographed by Paulo Pederneiras’s brother Rodrigo. “Parabelo” has been described by Rodrigo as his “most Brazilian” work and features brightly colored costumes and regional movement. “Ima” explores interdependence in human relationships through a series of solos, duos and group dances of various sizes — creating a constant fluctuation between many and few bodies on the stage.
Due to the company’s popularity and packed touring schedule, Kondziolka said he has had to work for two or three years to secure performance dates. For him and others at UMS, though, the wait was worth it.
“People who really love to go see dance should not miss this,” he said. “The audience just loves them. We’re talking about some of the best dancers you’ve ever seen.”
Kondziolka is also quick to point out that even those who are less familiar with dance will appreciate the company’s dynamic performance, especially since the art form has become more accessible in recent years due to popular television shows like “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars.”
“I really think that people should give it a try,” Kondziolka said. “Going to the theater to see a company like Grupo Corpo is a wonderful next step in someone’s personal development as a lover of dance.”
What makes the company most appealing to such a wide audience is its openness to interpretation.
“There’s a wonderful ambiguity about dance. (It’s) almost like a Rorschach test, you see in it what your mind suggests you see in it,” Kondziolka said. “I think that there are as many possible takeaways as there are viewers.”
Those who attend the performances at the Power Center will be among the countless people worldwide who have taken Grupo Corpo’s Rorschach test and found their own personal message through the dancing and choreography.