United Kingdom Carlos Núñes, José Miguel Wisnik and Tom Zé: Grupo Corpo, Choreography by Rodrigo Pederneiras, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, 4.11.2014 (SRT)
Grupo Corpo is a company with a special style and a special outlook. Based in Belo Horizonte, their approach takes classical movement, injects it with a heady dose of Brazilian style, thus producing a method of movement that is uniquely their own. Furthermore, they have no principal dancers, so everyone contributes in the same way. That makes them a treat to look at, and their choice of music cements the experience. Both pieces tonight pulsed with the rhythms of South America, and there were times in Sem Mim were there was only rhythm. However, the beat of the Brazilian samba was inflected through the sounds of Celtic music (with kilts to match) and Irish drums, and both scores seemed to combine the best of traditional, folk, Latin American and, in places, electriconic music to exciting effect.
Sem Mim was inspired by Martín Codax’s 13th century song cycle The Sea of Vigo, but Núñes and Wisnik turned their soundtrack into an exciting rhythmic rollercoaster that seemed to pull the dancers along in its wake. Not that they needed much encouragement: Pederneiras’ choreography relied on some beautifully undulating lines, as if to mimic the waves of the sea that inspired the original, and this produced some beautiful ensembles for the full company, as well as a sensational female solo that was quietly echoed in the shadows beyond. After the reflective company opening, the men burst onto the scene with a set that was more angular and even comic in mood, but which still had that wave motif flowing through it. Occasionally they also made use of a vast net that hung from the top of the set and could be lowered or re-shaped as a prop or, in one case, a room in which to dance… or was it a prison?
Parabelo was less cohesive but was still a lot of fun, with more angular movements and sharp, sometimes even jagged interaction between the dancers. Highlights included a beautifully flexible duet and some group work that placed as much emphasis on the individual as on the interactions. In the final few moments, however, they seemed to throw off all the rules and dance with a glorious sense of abandon that was really infectious. Just the splash of sun that you need as an Edinburgh winter begins to set in.