Sarah Crompton - The Telegraph
Their name means Group Body, and the opening of their first visit to the Edinburgh Festival looked like the Brazilian company’s dramatic visualisation of that title. In dim light, wearing red leotards and scarlet shoes, the dancers are bent over backwards, like crabs, in neat, serried rows.
They start to move, shuffling their bottoms, raising their legs, flexing their feet, like some demented yoga class, moving in and out of unison. It is a striking picture. Once upright, their movements are just as unique: an enticing combination of balletic lightness and speed, loose, jelly-like arms and shoulders, rhythmic hips. Their combination of sharp precision and breezy relaxation is unlike anything I have ever seen.
That idiosyncratic style springs from the origins of the company. Founded in 1975, it is run by the Pederneiras brothers, with Rodrigo as choreographer and Paulo as artistic director, while their sister Miriam runs the company’s community projects. Its basis is balletic, but layered over the top are more recognisably Brazilian syncopations, a bit of contemporary dance, some hip-hop and even some salsa and other social dancing.
You can see each influence quite clearly in that first piece, Parabelo, inspired both by Brazil’s carnival and the poverty of its people. And they produce some absolutely wonderful moments: a haunting duet where the man raises and twists his partner while holding her in the crook of his arm; a pulsating finale in which the company strut and shimmy until they literally drop to the floor. In between, however, there are passages where the dancers’ skills can’t disguise the repetitive nature of the action.
The second piece Onqotô is more ambitious — and better. It yokes the idea of the creation of the universe to the rivalry between Rio’s two leading football teams, toying with the attraction and repulsion of opposites.