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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 11, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 06
Grupo Corpo an evening of easy ecstasy
Arts & Entertainment
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Grupo Corpo an evening of easy ecstasy

by Rod Parke - SGN A&E Writer

Brazilian Dance: Grupo Corpo
February 3
Meany Hall


I've heard Grupo Corpo criticized as 'too much athleticism, not enough dance.' To be sure, this group is a far cry from classical ballet or even Balanchine-type modern dance, and it is incredibly athletic. (One man broke his little finger during one of the dances the last time they played Meany Hall!) We could only marvel at the conditioning required to sustain such high levels of physical energy and knife-edged accuracy all evening. The bodies had to be super-limber and strong.

But the dance steps were also mostly novel and impressive. Obviously, the discipline level was of the highest order. If the moves were often athletic, they were no less expressive of the music and of joy in physical movement. Grupo Corpo ('body group,' in English) is about the human body and how it can relate to music, and especially rhythm. There were no inhibitions about how the body might move; men moved with sexy undulation of the hips, what sexist men might label feminine, but without ever appearing 'camp.' Women danced pas de deux with women, and men with men. In this, and in the tight relationship between the movements and the music, Grupo Corpo was much like The Mark Morris Dance Group.

Of nearly equal importance to dance was the music, commissioned specifically for Grupo Corpo. (There are CDs available of their music.) Eclectic and extremely varied, much of the music was electronic and influenced by techno dance - think Cirque du Soleil, but at a higher level of sophistication. I found all of it very enjoyable and perfectly fitted, of course, to the dancing. Composers included Tom Zé, José Miguel Wisnik, and +2 (a trio made up of Domenico, Kassin, and Moreno).

The program consisted of two major works, Parabelo (from 1997) and Ímã (from 2009). Both benefitted greatly from excellent use of lighting. In the latter, use of seven-color LEDs that were recently release by an American company created special effects; for example at one point the dancers seemed to float on a pool of pure electric-green light. Each change of color served to relax the eyes and gave excellent back-drop to the perfect bodies before us. I did find the two works a little too similar (having remembered vastly different works from previous appearances at Meany), although each was full of a constantly fascinating variety of moves.

We sat mesmerized both by the often startling movements of the dancers, by the music, and by their expressive use of highly perfected bodies. Costumes varied from form-fitting, full-body stockings, to looser garments, all the way to almost nothing. It was hard not to be impressed!

Reviewer Rod Parke can be reached at rmp62@columbia.edu.

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