Grupo Corpo Festival Theatre

Grupo Corpo is a Brazilian dance company founded in 1975 by brothers Paulo and Rodrigo Pederneiras and they are making a welcome return to Edinburgh following their much acclaimed performances at the 2010 Festival.

What a contrast to the two Brazilian dance shows presented at this year’s Fringe which primarily featured the more freeform dances of the street. Grupo Corpo’s distinctive style also draws on its Brazilian roots but its fusion of Latin dance rhythms and classical ballet is precisely choreographed and its dancers move in perfect harmony to produce a seamless and flowing spectacle.

There are two pieces – Sem Mim and Parabelo. Sem Mim is set to the 13th century Galician Portuguese Sea of Vigo songcycle of Martin Codax with music by Carlos Nunez and Jose Wisnik. The music is at times haunting and sad, at others lively and upbeat. The huge billowing curtain over the stage represents the waves and the dancers become the creatures of the sea, the waves, women awaiting their lovers – all caught up in the unrelenting ebb and flow of the water. Parabelo evokes the spirit of Brazil and is full of colour and life. The dancers must have incredible stamina to sustain the high kicks, leaps and controlled movements throughout the piece – oh to have a fraction of their fitness and flexibility!

After the show the audience got the chance to ask questions of two of the dancers and one of the company managers. Most of the audience left at that point but I have to say it is well worth waiting for one of these sessions if you get the chance, as you get a great insight into the philosophy and methodology of the company and the meaning and origins of the pieces. We found out how the dancers manage to dance with such precision and perfectly timed coordination. The answer is hard work and repetition until they get it right – counting each step in turn and never losing their concentration. We also found out how they managed to change out of their impossibly tightfitting “unitards” so quickly – apparently it is all to do with some strategically positioned velcro and a bit of organised chaos behind the scenes.

Grupo Corpo’s philosophy is, they say, not to tell us a story in their work, rather it is to allow the audience to take what they want from it and hopefully leave the theatre feeling slightly differently to when they arrived. Objective achieved, I think, judging on the audience reception and the buzz afterwards.

Irene Brownlee