Spectacular Afro-Brazilian Dance from Balé Folclórico da Bahia
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The last date listed for Balé Folclórico da Bahia was Saturday January 22, 2011 / 8:00pm.
From the Brazilian state of Bahia and back in Boston for the first time in seven years, Balé Folclórico da Bahia performs a spectacular cultural repertoire of Afro-Brazilian dances. With riveting choreography, joyous rhythms and boundless energy, 38 dancers, musicians and singers move to the heartbeat of a nation. Colorful Carnaval dances, acrobatic martial arts and the effervescent samba blast into motion.
The only professional folk dance company in Brazil, Balé Folclórico da Bahia was formed in 1988, by Walson Botelho and Ninho Reis, and has achieved considerable success in its relatively short history.
Under the artistic direction of José Carlos Arandiba, the company’s many national and international tours have earned it a prestigious reputation throughout the country and abroad that is reflected in the response of both the public and critics alike. The 38‐member troupe of dancers, musicians and singers performs a spectacular repertory based on Bahian folkloric dances of African origin including slave dances, capoeira (a form of martial arts), samba and those celebrating Carnival. The company presents the region’s most important cultural manifestations under a contemporary theatrical vision that reflects its popular origins.
Based in Salvador in the northern state of Bahia, the Brazilian company made its debut in July 1988, at the Joinville Dance Festival where an audience of 20,000 enthusiastically greeted its performance titled “Bahia de Todas as Cores (All Colors of Bahia).” The troupe’s immediate success brought invitations to perform at other festivals around the country.
At the Bahia International Dance Festival later that year, Balé Folclórico da Bahia was awarded the prize for Best Performance of the Year given by the Ministry of Culture through the National Institute of Dance. In a subsequent tour of the principal capitals of Brazil, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, the troupe was acclaimed as one of the country’s most important dance companies.
In 1989, Balé Folclórico da Bahia performed an unprecedented two‐week engagement at Salvador’s Teatro Castro Alves, one of the most important theatres in Latin America, followed by a national tour. In 1990, the company received the Fiat Prize, awarded by Fiat Industries to the best dance company in Brazil.
Balé Folclórico da Bahia made its European debut in 1992, when it participated in Berlin’s Alexander Platz International Festival, which drew an audience of 50,000. In 1994, at the Biennale de la Danse in Lyon, France, the New York Times commented that “of the 20 companies, from four continents…no company better embodied the idea of black dance in Africa and beyond than the vibrant Balé Folclórico da Bahia.”
Since its success in Lyon, the troupe has traveled all over the world, becoming increasingly celebrated as one of the world’s finest folkloric dance companies. During the 1995‐1996 performance seasons, Balé Folclórico da Bahia embarked on its first tour of the United States with sold‐out performances across the country. The company was a revelation. The follow‐up North American tours in 1997 and 1998, again took the company coast to coast, with several presenters rebooking the company two or three years in a row.
In the fall of 2000, Bahia undertook its most extensive tour of North America yet with Carnaval 2000, dazzling audiences with its exuberant athleticism. In 2004, the company returned with a new production titled Brazilian Rhapsody, which included new pieces branching out from the Afro‐Brazilian roots of Bahian tradition to include colonial and indigenous influences as well.
Since its debut tour of North America in 1996, Balé Folclórico da Bahia has performed at the most important theatres in the US and Canada, including City Center in New York, the Shubert Theater in Boston, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the Chicago Theatre, Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley and Massey Hall in Toronto. To date, the troupe has completed over 200 performances in over 90 cities in North America.
Internationally, the company has performed in the Sydney Opera House, Teatro da Trinidade in Lisbon, the Savoy Teateeri in Helsinki, the Parteatern in Stockholm and Teatret Albertslund in Copenhagen, among many others. Most recently, the group completed another tour of France, Germany and Switzerland, as well as a tour of South America which brought it to seven countries.
In 2008, Balé Folclórico da Bahia celebrated its 20th anniversary with a sold‐out run in Salvador, Bahia. In 2009 and 2010, in addition to its many performances in Brazil the company will be undergoing extensive tours of Africa and Asia. It will make a long‐anticipated return to the United States in the 2010‐2011 season with an exciting new program returning to its Afro‐Brazilian roots, mixing longtime favorites such as “Afixirê” and “Capoeira” with new pieces created for its 20th anniversary.