A stage full of lithe, sweaty, grunting South American men? If you thought it was Friday night at your local gay bar, you’d be wrong — it’s Warriors of Brazil, an explosive dance performance coming to Australia in the coming weeks.
Featuring a collective of around 20 Brazilian dancers, the performance showcases the Capoeria moves that make Brazilian culture so renowned for its sensuality and athleticism. Strangely enough for a show bursting with such Latin American fervour, it took an Englishman to put Warriors of Brazil together.
“I always loved the music of Brazil, the fusion of different cultures. But until fairly recently, I hadn’t had the time to go and explore the culture — to meet the people, travel around, put in the hours,” creator and director Toby Gough told the Star.
“I spent three months in Brazil, finding out about the culture and finding out where the new music is coming from. It’s so important with these productions that everything is authentic, that you’re seeing the real thing. I wanted to avoid the usual clichés and present something fresh and current, that captures these performers’ lives today.”
Said performers came from the shanty towns, or favelas, of Brazil, with many still living there. Working with Gough has been their ticket to a better life, touring the world and doing what they do best. Gough said he preferred working with them to ‘professional’ performers.
“You see the difference in the performances. These people live and breathe music and Capoeria — it’s changed their lives. They’re not doing it between other performing jobs to pass the time or get their pay cheque — it’s what they do and it’s who they are.
“You definitely feel when you see them on stage that they’ve come from the heartland of this culture: their passion and enthusiasm is so clear. They’re used to doing it every day on the Brazilian beaches in the heat, so they’re really the best in the world.”
Warriors of Brazil is the latest in a long line of productions Gough has helmed that utilised the skills of people from underprivileged, wartorn or disaster-struck communities. He said theatre is underutilised as a powerful tool for growth and healing.
“I’ve directed theatre companies with Christians and Muslims, and with Tamil communities in Sri Lanka, with tsunami survivors. When you have people working in a harmonious way towards a common goal, it forces them to understand each other. A lot of ethnic prejudices just fall away when people get together, make music, improvise and tell stories.”
info: Warriors of Brazil is at the Theatre Royal, Sydney from January 19-24 and at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Melbourne from February 2-7. Tickets through Ticketek.