Creating an Environment in Dance

Mar 04, 2013

I have long been looking forward to Brazilian contemporary dance superstars Grupo Corpo's performance on March 5 at the Orpheum Theatre. The images for the two pieces in the repertoire, Sem Mim and Ímã (pictured above), captured my imagination instantly with their visual vibrancy and unique usage. It brought up a lot of questions for me. For instance, how do the dancers inhabit and interact with the set, especially an elaborate set such as the one used in Sem Mim? And how much does the visual environment reflect the movement, such as the colors pulsing in Ímã?

Grupo Corpo is known for their focus on the set, lighting, and costumes. This shows at every level of their work. In Sem Mim (which translates to "without me") look closely at the dancer's unitards. They are tattooed with Middle Ages inscriptions, using this age-old art of tattoo to interpret the medieval Galician-Portuguese songbook which was the creative fuel for this piece. The ancient songbook tells the story of women mourning and celebrating lovers returning from sea. The influence of water and the sea is literally woven throughout, thanks to the gorgeous draping nets that the dancers move through, below, and on. These nets create another dimension for the dancers to inhabit, and incorporating the feeling of being at sea. The whole piece additionally rocks the viewer back and forth with it's original score, also inspired by the songbook.

The tables turn with the kinetic, enthusiastic, and propulsive piece, Ímã, or “magnet.” The bold, dynamic colors used in the lighting create an energetic and vigorous setting for this piece. Look to see how this energy created by the setting reflects the propelling movement featured in an exploration of attraction and repulsion. The Brazilian trio +2 is the piece's driving soundtrack, moving the piece forward.

How important are physical surroundings to your experience of viewing a piece of choreography? Who are some other choreographers who use the set, lighting, and costumes especially well?

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