Viver Brasil, the Afro-Brazilian dance company based in Los Angeles and led by artistic directors Linda Yudin and Luiz Badaró, presents Viver Brasil Celebrates 20 Years: Agô Ayó — Spirits Rising at the Ford Theatres on Friday, September 22, 2017 at 8:30 pm. The vibrant company of dancers and musicians will perform joyful dance and musical forms rooted in the sacred and contemporary traditions of Brazil.
The evening honors Viver Brasil’s 20 years of creating a stronger humanity through bold, soulful and thought-provoking Afro-Brazilian dance theater exploring contemporary themes of race, gender and social equity. The company exalts the ancestral wisdom of orixá dance and music, the socially charged dances of frevo, samba, and the bloco afro carnival spectacle with irrepressible and exuberant physicality, power and passion. Its dancers unveil history, ignite the present, and imagine and inflame the future. Vocalists become part of the action and musicians take polyrhythms to new heights.
Viver Brasil Celebrates 20 Years: Agô Ayó –– Spirits Rising features world premieres by two internationally renowned female Brazilian choreographers: Bahian-based Vera Passos (Para Onde o Samba Me Leva/Where Samba Takes Me) and Los Angeles–based Marina Magalhães (Cor Da Pele/Skin Color). The program also includes Viver Brasil’s Orixás; Revealed; Avaninha, and its signature, bloco afro spectacle. New musical soundscapes will be created and performed live by Kahlil Cummings, Simon Carroll, and Bobby Easton. It will be Viver Brasil’s twelfth time appearing at the Ford Theatres.
Cor Da Pele/Skin Color (world premiere) draws upon cross-cultural parallels to connect people across the African Diaspora in the struggle against anti-blackness, rewriting our relationship with black ancestry and reclaiming our history as mixed-race people of color from Latin America and the United States. The choreographer for this piece is Marina Magalhães.
Para Onde a Samba Me Leva/Where the Samba Takes Me (world premiere) pays homage to the great sambadeira Joselita Moreira da Cruz Silva (aka Zelita), whose life was dedicated to the preservation of the samba from the Reconcavo region of Bahia. Bahian choreographer Vera Passos explores the steps and rhythms of the samba chula style with the same intensity in which the late Zelita lived her life: with joy, love, creativity, movement and action rooted in ancestral wisdom. This piece is arranged by choreographer Vera Passos.
Orixás celebrates the deities (orixás) or the divine forces of nature found in the spiritual practice descended from Brazil’s African ancestors, the Yoruba and Gege, from Nigeria and Benin. This piece retells the story of how Ogum, the god of iron, brings the elementals together from the cosmos to populate and guide earth. Choreographer Rosangela Silvestre arranged this piece and it is restaged by Vera Passos.
In Revealed, Viver Brasil’s timely mythical narrative, three all-powerful wives of Xangô – Iansã, warrior goddess of the winds and ancestral world who possesses the ability to sever the life line; Oxum, queen of the sweet waters, protector of children, beauty and the essence of self-love; and Oba, robust hunter goddess of the earth, symbol of renewal and independence – step beyond the archetype. They remove their crowns and test their powers as mothers and activists responding to the very real human demands in the face of current racially charged violence, the senseless dying of black and brown youth. The vitality of ancient wisdom, a story of strength, truth, courage and humanity, stands Revealed. This piece is arranged by choreographer Shelby Williams-González.
Viver Brasil’s Bloco Afro Spectacle proclaims, through the thunderous joy of movement and music, the cry for civil rights, courageously created during Brazil’s oppressive military dictatorship from 1964-1985. Bloco afro carnival (Afro-Brazilian parading organizations) choreography recalls the politically and artistically charged voices of black and mixed-race Brazilians in Bahia in the 1970s and 1980s as they emerged to exalt the brilliance of blackness in Brazil. Choreographer Vera Passos arranged this piece.
A complete season schedule, directions to the theatre and parking information can be found at FordTheatres.org. For more on Viver Brasil, please visit www.viverbrasil.com.