Grupo Corpo

Nov 5 2014 | By More

★★★★☆    Cultural Celebrations

Festival Theatre: Tue 4/Wed 5 Nov 2014
Review by Susan Lowes

In the last dates of the 2014 UK Tour, The Dance Consortium presents Grupo Corpo at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre for two nights only. The Company delivers a stunning visual display of the Brazilian culture with elements of wonder, beauty and skill.

However, there is a level of expectation and anticipation surrounding the performance that is never fully satiated. Grupo Corpo perform two pieces – Sem Mim and Parabelo – beautifully choreographed by artistic director Rodrigo Pederneiras.

Groupo Corpo in Sem Mim. Photo Sharen Bradford

Grupo Corpo in Sem Mim. Photo Sharen Bradford

The skill and precision of the dancers is undeniable, successfully combining classical ballet with the sensuality and passion of Latin dance. But while they succeed in entertaining and delighting, the show lacks the intimacy that connects the dancers, the sequences and the audience.

Grupo Corpo identifies as a group rather than individual dancers. Like a carefully balanced ecosystem, each element is in its place and delivering its function. This is particularly apparent in the first piece, Sem Mim, where at times four different combinations of dancers interact and intertwine to set the scene. However, in this ecosystem where there are no central elements or dancers, they all seem to become part of the background.

Set to a 13th century Portuguese song cycle, Sem Mim is based on the experiences of a group of locals in fishing villages. While there is no obvious story to the piece, the patterns of the dancers are mesmerising as they mirror the movement of the sea. The dancers are dressed in skin-coloured bodysuits overlaid with intricate patterns, which give the appearance of near-nudity and adeptly showcase a maritime tattooing tradition.

a striking interplay of light

The minimalism of the set is powerful, with only playful lighting and an oversized fishing net to complement the almost primal and primitive dancing.  A particularly poignant scene builds on this simplicity delivering a striking interplay of light and highlighting two dancers caught in the net. Yet while their performance implies a lover’s intimacy, it is strangely unintimate.

Groupo Corpo perform Parabelo. Photo: Sharen Bradford

Grupo Corpo perform Parabelo. Photo: Sharen Bradford

Where Sem Mim celebrates a somewhat local culture, Parabelo revels in displaying a more energetic and diverse Brazilian identity. Again with no underlying story, Parabelo is a sequence of disparate dances full of bright and colourful contrasts. In places, the imagery is jarring and surreal, with enormous floating heads dominating the background of the set, and in others there is a sublime beauty portrayed through peaceful stillness and dark illuminations.

One thing for sure though is that the dancers in Parabelo portray a very Brazilian experience, which has a very street dance feel to it. In parts, the stacked lines of dancers with the combination of fast and slow rhythms are reminiscent of a Zumba class, albeit an expert and flawless one.

As a whole, Grupo Corpo delivers a highly skilled and technical performance which is a fantastic cultural celebration. It’s an expert performance where the dancers cannot be faulted – movements are perfectly choreographed and like the ecosystem, everything is exactly where it should be. The dancers deliver their parts with exuberance and vitality, with very different styles of movements showcased across the two pieces.

And yet, there is an air that there might be something missing. The performances seem curiously separate, with no intimacy or connections within individual pieces or between individual dancers. That said however, with only one night left to the UK tour, it’s a celebration of Brazilian culture not to be missed.

Running time: 1 hours 50 minutes (including interval)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 November 2014
Evenings 7.30 pm
For more information and tickets:
Tour website:


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