Forty years ago Oscar Araiz choreographed "Maria Maria" for the recently born Grupo Corpo and it was a deserved success, for the blend of attractive Brazilian popular music with inventive steps and splendid dancing was irresistible. The GC was founded by the brothers Pederneiras at Belo Horizonte, the beautiful capital of Minas Gerais.
The Pederneiras are still in charge. During this prolonged lapse the group has visited us repeatedly; the last was nine years ago and is still fresh in the audience´s perception, so in their presentation at the Coliseo for the Grupo Ars they were received with enthusiasm. There are reasons for it: what they bring is truly Brazilian, a country of intense personality and ethnic diversity. What they present is authentic and accomplished with vigorous dynamism from both sexes.
It is a chamber group and although there are occasional duets but mostly there are ensembles. The music they brought is specific for the choreographies. Of the Pederneiras Paulo is the Artistic Director, Rodrigo the choreographer, Pedro the Technical Director, and three others occupy flank posts. They have been wholly dedicated to their company. The current GC has come with 21 dancers and, typical of this company, the hand programme identifies no soloists in the chosen pieces.
Two ample works, about 35 minutes each, made up the evening. In both the moments of relaxation are few, for this is basically athletic, gymnastic dancing, with little time for poetry, where one mostly admires their stamina and perfect adjustment. Of course, it´s modern dancing, with little recourse to classic staples such as points. They dress soberly, the women often showing their bare legs, the men completely covered.
The night started with "Suíte branca" ("White suite") by the young choreographer Cassi Abranches with music by Samuel Rosa. Indeed, all are dressed by Freusa Zechmeister in immaculate white, with a wall imagined by Paulo Pederneiras that changed color according to the lighting of Paulo and Gabriel Pederneiras from an earthy tint to white. The description in the hand programme is accurate: "between undulating hips and arms, suspensions and considerable floor work, this creation suggests an interaction with the gravity force". One of the girls was amazingly flexible, even when dropped onto the floor unceremoniously.
I felt that Abranches insisted too much on similar movements, more variety was needed. And the music bends to the current noisy electronic trend; less decibels and more music! True Brazilian popular music, rhythmic but lighter!
"Dança Sinfônica", choreography by Rodrigo Pederneiras, music by Marco Antônio Guimaraes, and the same technical team as the preceding work, seemed altogether richer. The idea is based on reminiscence, a mosaic taken from the best pieces of the group, and Guimaraes has composed for them decades ago, so the whole thing holds together. The music is much better, played by the Minas Gerais Philharmonic and bridges by the group Uakti; there´s even a clever mix of a Bach cello suite with Brazilian music.
This time the dominant color was burgundy except one fragile slim girl in white. She did (with a sturdy manipulator) a stunning duet in which she didn´t touch ground, moved about as if she was boneless; it was a moment of strange poetry in an almost relentless display of team bustle executed with virtuosity. I missed elegance and charm, but there´s no question about the discipline and joyful exuberance of this troupe.
Colón Contemporáneo presented a combination of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic and the Ensemble Modern centered on an important score by Magnus Lindberg: "Kraft" ("Strength"). The EM is a fearless group of players without Artistic Director founded at Frankfurt in 1980, and naturally its personnel has changed over the years. They were here twenty years ago, so for many it was their first visit to BA. Currently it is integrated by 22 players from 10 countries; 11 came on this tour.
"Kraft" is an early creation of the Finnish composer, finished in 1985, for a quintet of soloists and orchestra. It lasts half an hour; its basic parameter is simply sound and he wrote it with a computer, Apple II. The relegation of melody, harmony and rhythm to a distant second category was already done much earlier by Krzysztof Penderecki in his experimental "De natura sonoris", I and II (1966 and 1971) but Lindberg adds spacialisation and amplification.
We had no time to get bored, audience nor players: not only the soloists but several members of the Phil went from the stage to several posts in the loges or in the central corridor of the stalls (there, an enormous tam-tam) and the multiphonic amplified music they played blended with that of the equally busy artists that were on stage. It was quite an exercise of logistics and for some a display of agility and timing (particularly the clarinettist), and under the sure hand of conductor Pablo Rus Broseta it brilliantly arrived to port.
In the First Part we heard "Expo" for orchestra, also by Lindberg, paradoxically much later (2009) but very tonal; Madrigal Nº3 (The hands) by the Argentine Marcos Franciosi, freshly composed and a joint commission of the Colón and the EM, of colorful timbres but disappointing substance; and "Runaround" (2014) by the Slovene Vito Zuraj, for brass quartet and ensemble (including seven local musicians), a wild piece vaguely based on a jazzy walking bass. All were premières.
For Buenos Aires Herald