The Brazilian dance ensemble Grupo Corpo is set to perform at the Mondavi Center Feb. 4. With an immersive presentation of movement, rhythm, light and costume, Grupo Corpo’s uniquely Brazilian aesthetic has captivated international audiences for over 30 years.
Grupo Corpo will be performing two different pieces created by choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras, Sem Mim and Ímã, translating to “without me” and “magnet,” respectively. Sem Mim, based on the lyrics of Martin Codax’s 13th century “Sea of Vigo” song cycle, is characterized by wave-like movements that reflect a maiden’s longing for her love lost at sea. Ímã, on the other hand, features magnetic motions and vibrant, colorful choreography that emphasizes juxtaposition.
According to dancer Janaina Castro, who has been with Grupo Corpo for 13 years, the two pieces may differ greatly in style yet have the same “language” that audiences can appreciate.
“It’s great to perform two different pieces,” Castro said. “We work with the same choreographer so it’s like we have a language; each performance is very different. It’s nice to do two pieces in one night because we can show the audience that they have the same language but are totally different.”
According to Castro, the movement of Grupo Corpo’s dancing is a fluid combination of classical ballet and contemporary dance, and lies on the foundation of discipline and precise control of body movements.
“We do something very fluent and use the entire space,” Castro said. “Sometimes, people think it’s very easy and a free work, but I think it’s hard work. You have to focus and have the discipline.”
Technical director of Grupo Corpo Pedro Pederneiras believes that Grupo Corpo’s use of Brazilian dance movements, rooted in such types of dance as capoiera and samba, has led to the development of choreography and movement not easily replicated. The company, based out of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, features an almost entirely Brazilian group of dancers.
“The dance of Grupo Corpo is based in Brazilian music,” Pederneiras said. “The way of the dancing is very special and even hard for non-Brazilians to dance in this way.”
Pederneiras, who initially began with Grupo Corpo during its inception as a dancer, said that the goal of Grupo Corpo has always been to tour internationally, almost as a form of cultural exchange. He said that currently 60 to 65 percent of all of Grupo Corpo’s shows are performed internationally.
Jeremy Ganter, associate executive director and director of programming at the Mondavi Center, says this is the group’s fourth time performing at the Mondavi Center. He attributes Grupo Corpo’s popularity to an “aesthetic [that] is powerful and easy to love.”
According to Ganter, the group has become a local favorite and reflects Davis’ wholehearted support of contemporary dance.
“Grupo Corpo is very popular here, and I think that is as much about the power of their work as it is about the incredibly strong and supportive modern dance audience we have in this region,” Ganter said. “On campus and off, we have some of the most warm, supportive and adventurous dance-goers you’ll find anywhere. We are so proud of that.”
Tickets range from $17.50 for UC Davis students to $63, and can be purchased online at mondaviarts.org or at the Mondavi ticket office.