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Grupo Corpo at Jacobs Pillow
by Elyse Sommer
To help Jacob's Pillow celebrate its 75th anniversary, Grupo Corpo, is premiering its newest work, Santagustin at the Pillow instead of in Brazil. The forty-minute piece is a scintillating display of the company's lightning body work (Grupo Corpo means body work) -- a blend of high energy, amazingly balanced and coordinated movements.
From the opening image, which has the look and feel of a beach party, through the subsequent duets which evoke all the faces of love between mixed and same sex couples, Santagustin could easily be a series of excerpts from a Broadway musical. Tom Ze and Gilberto Assis, whose rocking score incorporates ringing cell phones, animal sounds and Brazilian vocals provides the "book" from which the choreographer's ideas spring. Watching the nineteen dancers coupling and uncoupling, you are not only mesmerized by their control of movement but their vivid characterizations which need no lyrics to be interpreted. The Samba sequence has the flavor of a Broadway show's grand finale.
The new work, the company's twenty-fourth, is well-paired with 7 or 8 Pieces for a Ballet, also choreographed by Rodrigo Pedermeiras, this time with music by Philip Glass. The hypnotic, repetition laden score is a collaboration by Glass and the musical group UAKTI which usess many found instruments. It is made to order for the stylized movements of the group in variously striped and solid colored unitards and mini helmets.
With the success of the musical Contact, with its use of recorded music and virtually no dialogue, pointing to the closing of the gap between musicals, ballet and modern dance, it's easy to imagine Rodrigo Pederneiras and his talented troupe actually crossing over to the musical stage. One would have to go no further than the story of the company's emergence from home-based dance business to international sensation for such a show's book. The musical theater could certainly benefit from such an infusion of talent and originality.
Grupo Corpo's colorful double bill comes to an end this Sunday. Since the performances are sold out, those living in New York, or planning a visit there, can catch them in October, when they are scheduled to appear at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
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