Brazil’s Grupo Corpo Returns With Vibrant 40th Anniversary Program

BRAZIL’S WORLD ACCLAIMED GRUPO CORPO RETURNS TO WHITE BIRD
WITH A 40TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATORY PROGRAM FEATURING COMPANY’S SEDUCTIVE MOVEMENT WITH VIBRANT MUSIC, SET DESIGNS AND COSTUMES.

Who: Grupo Corpo, Artistic Director, Paulo Pederneiras,
Presented by: White Bird
When: Wednesday, March 30, 2016, 7:30 pm
Where: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, SW Broadway/Main, Portland, OR
Sponsors: Columbia Trust and Columbia Bank, The Oregonian
Tickets: Starting at $26, available at whitebird.org and Portland’5 Box Office,
1111 SW Broadway (formerly PCPA) NO added fees.1-800-380-3516 (added fees apply).
Discounts available for groups/students and seniors.

“Colorful, rhythmic and always looking forward.” –Houston Chronicle

With its seductive movement, scintillating music, vibrant costuming, sets and lighting, Grupo Corpo reflects the amazing diversity and rich color of Brazil. This hugely popular dance company, based in Bela Horizonte, Brazil and celebrating its 40th anniversary, returns to White Bird for a fifth time with two thrilling new works that will light up the Schnitzer stage. The world-renowned contemporary dance company is led by Artistic Director Paulo Pederneiras and his brother Rodrigo Pederneiras, who has served as Grupo Corpo’s choreographer since 1978. Rodrigo’s choreography has been acclaimed around the world for its incomparable mix of ballet and contemporary Afro-Brazilian movement. In the words of the company, “When one sees Grupo Corpo dance on stage, all facets of Brazil, past and future, erudite and popular, foreign influence and local color, and the urban and the suburban come to being as art. Brazilian art. World art.”

The 40th year celebratory program begins with Suíte Branca (White Suite), choreographed by Cassi Abranches in 2015, marking the first collaboration between the young choreographer from Sao Paulo and Grupo Corpo. The company of 21 dancers are dressed in white from start to finish, moving across the dance floor—which is also white—and against a backdrop that gradually reveals the peaks and valleys of a structure that resembles a giant glacier. Set to an intriguing web of themes composed by Samuel Rosa, the dancers’ bodies, with undulating arms and hips, rise and fall dreamlike, tending to ignore gravity’s pull.

The second work, which closes the evening, is Dança Sinfônica (Symphonic Dance), by Grupo Corpo’s acclaimed choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras, which he created in 2015 to celebrate Grupo Corpo’s 40th anniversary and is an homage to the group’s long and impressive repertoire. The special score was composed for the 90-member Philharmonic of Minas Gerais and the famed Uakti group, a Brazilian instrumental group known for their custom-made instruments. The backdrop comprises more than a thousand informal photographic taken from the private photographic collections of professionals who have collaborated with or had an influence on the trajectory of Grupo Corpo over these 40 years.

Grupo Corpo, founded by Paulo Pederneiras in 1975, in Belo Horizonte, State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, debuted its first work, Maria Maria, the very next year. Featuring original music by Milton Nascimento, a script by Fernando Brandt and choreography by the Argentine Oscar Araiz, the ballet would go on to spend six years on stage and tour fourteen countries. But even though the piece was an immediate critical, popular and commercial success, the group´s distinctive artistic identity, its long-term popularity and its artistic achievements have been the fruits of a long, arduous journey. In 1985, the company launched what would be its second great success: Prelúdios, a theatrical piece incorporating twenty-four Chopin preludes interpreted by pianist Nelson Freire. The show debuted to public and critical acclaim at the First International Dance Festival of Rio de Janeiro and would cement the group´s reputation in the world of contemporary Brazilian dance. Grupo Corpo then entered a new phase, establishing its own unique theatrical language and choreography. The group underwent a radical transformation three years later with the production of 21, a ballet which confirmed the uniqueness of Rodrigo Pederneiras´s choreography and the unmistakable persona of the dance troupe. Utilizing the singular sounds of Brazilian instrumental group Uakti, as well as ten themes composed by Marco Antônio Guimarães, 21 leaves behind the group´s preoccupation with technical form and sees it taking apart melodies and rhythms in order to explore their underlying ideas. The partnership of Grupo Corpo with contemporary composers has been such a success that scores composed especially for the company have become the norm, and each score has inspired a new creation.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, Grupo Corpo intensified its international touring. Between 1996 and 1999, it was the resident dance company of the Maison de la Danse in Lyon, France. Several of the group´s creations (Bach, Parabelo and Benguelê) were first staged in Europe over this period. Today, having created 36 choreographies and more than 2,400 performances, the Brazilian dance company maintains ten ballets in its repertoire and gives 70 performances a year in places as distinctive as Iceland and South Korea, the United States and Lebanon, Italy and Singapore, the Netherlands and Israel, France and Japan, Canada and Mexico.

White Bird’s 18th season (2015-16) is supported by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, including support from the City of Portland, Multnomah County and the Arts Education & Access Fund, Work for Art, The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Meyer Memorial Trust, The Collins Foundation, Ronni Lacroute/Willakenzie Estate, National Endowment for the Arts, Oregon Arts Commission, Multnomah County Cultural Coalition, Oregon Cultural Trust, Hebert A. Templeton Foundation, WESTAF, New England Foundation for the Arts, and Starseed Foundation.

Brazil’s Grupo Corpo Returns With Vibrant 40th Anniversary Program