The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 24, 2011

'Nonstop movement and music' | Acclaimed Viver Brasil to perform at arts center

Music and dance will be swirled together in an energetic and vibrant show.

Viver Brasil will bring a spirited performance featuring the traditional dances and costumes of Brazil to the area at 7:30 p.m. April 8 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

The dance troupe offers a cultural journey through Brazil with a program featuring Afro-Cuban rhythms, ceremonial celebrations and a Brazilian martial arts dance.

Artistic director Linda Yudin said the dance company includes 14 onstage dancers, plus musicians, singers and performers for the martial arts dance.

“We provide our own background music,” Yudin said. “We have live percussion, a saxophone, flute and two singers.

“The singers do a humorous song about who is the best samba dancer and singer.”

The award-winning dance company is rooted in the traditional and contemporary forms and techniques of Brazil and Salvador, the capital city of the Brazilian state of Bahia.

The dancers’ innovative stage presentations push choreographic boundaries and link traditional and contemporary Afro-Brazilian dance as they explore Brazil’s racial, social and political history.

“We have a mixed company of American and Brazilian dancers,” Yudin said. “Those from Brazil are from Salvador, and the Americans are mixed nationals. Everyone in the company has been to Brazil, either on their own or with the company, to study.

“With such culturally specific dances, they need to understand what it’s all about.”

Yudin said the first part of the show will be a theatric retelling of the story of some of the Afro-Brazilian deities.

The second half will begin with a dance featuring the indigenous spirits of Brazil and then flow into “In Motion,” a high-energy fusion of traditional and contemporary dance styles.

The last dance will be dedicated to the carnival in Salvador, which is different from the one in Rio de Janeiro.

“They’re all lively,” Yudin said of the dances. “It’s a culture that moves. This will be nonstop movement and music.

“This is so exciting because it will be an inclusive show of dance, music, voice and costumes, all reflecting the vibrancy of Brazil.”

Viver Brasil also produces dance concerts, works with community organizations and sponsors educational programs on campuses from elementary school to colleges and universities. 

“We have a good time onstage, and I think the audience will engage in the excitement,” Yudin said. “There’s a fiery passion that reflects the culture of Brazil.”

Yudin became interested in Brazilian dance in 1986 when she was finishing her graduate studies in dance at UCLA and a dance company from Salvador, Bahia, came to perform.

“I will never forget it,” Yudin said.

“They did some sacred dances featuring their deities, and something touched me in a profound way. It struck a chord, and in three months I was in Salvador doing research. I did my master’s thesis on it, and I’ve been going back every year for 25 years.”

Yudin founded Viver Brasil in 1997 with co-director, choreographer and musician Luiz Badaro.

Badaro is a critically acclaimed master dancer, choreographer, percussionist and educator who was born in Salvador, Bahia.

He has been choreographing and performing for more than 30 years in Brazil, Europe, Africa and the United States.

His choreography is inspired by the traditional and contemporary worlds of Afro-Brazilian culture and is known for being Brazilian to the core.

If you go ...

What: Viver Brasil.

Where: Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, Richland Township.

When: 7:30 p.m. April 8.

Tickets: $28 and $26.

Information: 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or www.upjarts.org.

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