Friday, 18 July 2014


Prepare to be wowed by an exuberant show that captures the magic of the Brazilian carnival

Written by Gillian SpickernelI
Gillian-Spickernell-176Brasil Brasileiro is billed on lurid green and yellow posters as ‘the summer samba sensation’ so you think it’s going to be an explosion of hot yellows, greens and purples right from the start. Yet the show begins simply with a single shaft of light on to a darkened stage around which a group of supplicant men and women dressed in white, with their heads to the ground, are invoking the spirits of their African slave ancestors. This is known as a batuque and there is no orchestra, just the percussive sound of hands striking the ground and a lone drum. Gradually, the circle opens to face its audience and the dancers rise from their lowly positions to move and sing as one body and soul. The effect is powerful and dramatic.

Director Claudio Segovia’s show is a hit. From the opening batuque, Segovia and his company link a sequence of dances that trace the development of samba from its African slave roots to the gyrating explosion of rhythm, energy and colour that we think of as modern-day Brazil. There’s plenty of entertainment along the way, from the thrilling acrobatic tumbling of the three capoeira (martial art) dancers to the man dressed in a white suit, hat and red tie, 1940s Hollywood-style. Half-hiding his face under the brim of his hat, his dazzling smile charms the audience as his shoulders and torso shake with the music’s rhythmical laughter.

Brasil Brasileiro (Brasileiro translates as ‘Brazilian’) brings together 38 dancers, musicians and singers as well as some ‘mulatas’ and ‘mulatos’ – specifi c samba dancers – direct from Brazil. The orchestra, absent at first, gradually appear on stage one by one to take their places on a dais at the back. The dances are interspersed with two singers, Rose Barcellos and Nelson Félix – sometimes with three or four female backing singers in slinky dresses. At times, the sound of a human voice rises up like the raw cry of a wild dog.

In the second half the energy and rhythm gather pace to a fi nale of such exuberance you think the stage might burst. Women in orange, red, white and black dresses oozing sensuality dance to a cacophony of drums and whistles. The audience can contain itself no longer and takes to its feet, whooping and dancing in the aisles. Carnival has arrived!

Until 27 July at Sadler’s Wells, London EC1: 0844871 0090,

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