Following on from the terrific Tanguera earlier this year, Balé de Rua brings more South American twinkletoes action to Sadlers Wells. The Brazilian community project-cum-dance troupe are back in London, this time at the Peacock Theatre with some explosive moves and more than a nod to social issues rooted in their country’s painful past.
The dancers first appear in white suits and fedoras with a routine of moves straight out of the Michael Jackson canon including hat-tips, moonwalking and the occasional groin-grope. The range of dance styles on show are more varied than Carmen Miranda’s headdress as the troupe segues between traditional samba given a fresh twist, balletic capoeira and some headspinning, bodypopping breakdancing goodness. Exciting executed skill-based routines are interspersed with interpretative dance stories recalling the days when African slaves were shipped to Brazil in their millions. Marco Antonio Garcia's choreography speaks volumes although the use of shallow bowls as props standing in for boats brings to mind Subbuteo rather than jogo bonito.
There is a strong visual element which runs throughout the show. Once they lose the white suits, the waxed and well-toned dancers don long green dresses before stripping down to swimming shorts and - for Sandra Mara Silva Gabriel, the sole female dancer - a bra before they cover up with tartan jammie bottoms and, later, spiky flowery outfits. In between all this, paint is daubed on the dancers from a bucket or orally applied to one individual bukkake-style. In a particularly evocative scene, we see the ensemble enmeshed in black seatbelt-like fabric, the backlighting casts monster shadows across the theatre as the dancers struggle to free themselves.
If the show has one fault, it is that it is trying to do too much within its 75-minute running time and there is little narrative outside the interpretative pieces. It comes across as their greatest hits rather than a cohesive whole but this shouldn’t take away from the breathtaking quality demonstrated here much appreciated by an audience who were literally dancing in the aisles by the end.
Balé de Rua will be on at the Peacock Theatre until Saturday (November 20). More information and tickets can be found here.
The Peacock Theatre presents The Snowman in December.
Our reviews of other Sadlers Wells shows.