Review: São Paulo Dance Company at Newcastle Theatre Royal

Review: São Paulo Dance Company at Newcastle Theatre Royal

São Paulo Dance Company Newcastle Theatre Royal

5th March 2024

Presented by Dance Consortium, I had the pleasure of seeing São Paulo Dance Company’s production of three contrasting pieces over a spellbinding hour and a half of breathtaking dance and some truly wonderful lighting to complement it beautifully. My expectations were high because Dance Consortium were also responsible for bringing the fabulous Dada Masilo’s ‘The Sacrifice’ to the same stage last year and I was certainly not disappointed with this dance company from the sprawling metropolis and diverse second city of Brazil. 

The evening was split into three and while the first segment was by far and away my favourite, the whole night was a joy of rhythmic athleticism, balletic love stories and a choreographic feast that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. 

The opening segment is a ballet in itself. The programme suggests that it is ‘inspired by songs that become hymns – anthems – for an individual, a group, a generation, or a nation’ but that does not do justice to this piece which transcends nationality and offers a small glimpse into the diverse, vibrant and thoroughly international blend of cultures that São Paulo enjoys and celebrates. Choreographer Goyo Montero along with an exquisite soundscape from Owen Belton provides a celebration of life, rebirth and identity. It is warm and vibrant, soulful and moving, perhaps satirical and rebellious in places depending on how the audience views it. 

The lighting throughout this outstanding triple bill is magnificent and much credit has to go to designers Pedro de Christo and André Boll and to the entire cast for being exactly where they should be for the cues to land so effortlessly. The sound scape very cleverly is started long before the curtain goes up which just adds to the anticipation of what is to unfold and I applaud the technicians including sound technician Alexandre Ciriaco Vianna for this inspired addition to the plot. 

The second piece brings the influences of North Africa and Arabia to the fore and artistic director Nacho Duato really drills into the rituals and rhythms and the dancers evocatively warm to their dancing with elegance and superb timing once again. 

Finally, and probably more aligned with what I was expecting to see this evening, the final vignette, choreographed by Brazilian Cassi Abranches, has the feel of the samba about it with the company thrilling the audience with the more anticipated gyrating hips and high energy belly beat movement so beloved of Brazilian tradition – there is the feeling of carnival about the final piece that brings warmth, joy and more than a little sensuality and sexuality to conclude what is a quite mesmerising display of classical, contemporary and clever choreography that I would quite happily sit through again. 

At the conclusion there was a Q+A with Artistic Director Inês Bogéa, who spoke about the over riding arch of the trilogy explaining that it is a nod to the past, bringing joy into the present and looking to the future and I believe that this company of superb dancers and their amazing technical team have does just that. This is the first time São Paulo Dance Company has visiting these shore, and I, for one, certainly hope that it will not be the last. There is a joy of life throughout this production and a hope that we can maintain our planet, so full of vibrancy, beauty and vitality, for many generations to come. The time is right; the time is now to embrace it – and that is such a wonderful and important message. 

São Paulo Dance Company thrill and entertain at Newcastle Theatre Royal until Wednesday 6th March before continuing on their tour to Bradford, Salford Quays, Wolverhampton, Inverness and Norwich.

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