See Bruno Beltrao at DTW NOW

If I could, I would go back to DTW for the next 3 nights with someone new to see Bruno Beltrao/Grupa de Rua’s “H3” each time.  I want to watch this work work.  And work it does, on so many levels.  It’s a physically brutal investigation of time, space, and energy.  It’s a collapse of discrete systems and a rebirth for hip hop and contemporary dance performance.  It’s compelling, frustrating and rousing.  Beltrao is doing something for hip hop that Forsythe did for ballet.  He’s moving it to new ground and getting it in front of new audiences.  He’s also providing contemporary performance with a fast and furious injection of what is probably the most common global movement practice of our times.  He’s beyond appropriation, fusion, migration or transmission.  He is full-on synthesis and he is banging apart the borders for the rest of us.

Beltrao has received substantial recognition in Brazil and Europe, but this is his first time to the US.  You do not want to miss it, though I’ll admit that I might opt for late seating for my own return visit as the first 20 minutes gets a bit tedious.   It begins compellingly enough but what starts as movement investigation begins to feel like filler (perhaps to achieve evening length status).  I have much more to say, but as I spent at least an hour and half (most of it freezing on a street corner) debating the merits of the work and the merits of contemporary dance with my b-girl/American Studies scholar/Dance and Journalism degreed/recovering former member of the “poverty circuit” (as she tells me the B’way dancers call it) guest, I’m now tired and chilled.

But, I had to first say GO! What else do you have to do on a Sunday night?

3 thoughts on “See Bruno Beltrao at DTW NOW”

  1. Ariel says:

    Hi Maura,

    I agree, this show was incredible. I work at On the Boards and only got a chance to see it once and would have seen it every night if I could.

    But, we did film it for, so in about a month or a little more you’ll be able to stream or download an edited, filmic version of the piece there. I can’t wait to rewatch.

  2. D. Noev says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. I actually went to see Bruno Beltrao’s troupe tonight and found it quite impressive! I also felt excited and compelled to share my experience. First, I’ve never seen such an extensive collaboration of dance forms fused into one; especially mixing the elements of street with contemporary; very unconventional yet fitting. I loved how they used the space, my eyes were jumping from corner to corner but the overall aesthetic, when observed holistically, had such a huge impact. I see what you mean, how can they even stand towards the end?! As I was watching the show what struck me was what we had discussed in class today, the discourse of dance in theatre juxtaposed with social. I found Beltrao’s approach very unique and clever; in my opinion he was able to reconcile these two forms of undervalued and higher valued genres. As the show progressed I noticed the obvious themes of tension in his piece, colliding, pushing and pulling, but there was also a fluidity that was so beautiful. I did find the energy to be sexually charged, or maybe it was just me? There were moments that had a subtle intimacy about it which I found homoerotic. I loved how they played with light and contrast in the end, but my absolute favorite part was when the candescent edges were lit and the stage became dark. When all of the performers started running backwards and jumping while the electronic music was playing, that was the moment I connected with the most. For some reason, I still don’t know, it was so powerful and emotional. Except the emotional connection was disrupted when one of the performers tripped over the edge and the square collapsed (did this happen when you watched the show?), and the whole time I was trying to figure out if it was intentional. That part bothered me. But when I started to think about it in hindsight, maybe it was intentional because it was symbolic of breaking free from the box and the conventions and norms of space? Well, that depends if you saw the show and he didn’t trip. Overall, very gritty and inspirational.

  3. Jess says:

    Hi D-

    I too work at On the Boards. I remember watching the show on our opening night and feeling actually worried about the square of light being tripped upon and consequently collapsing. The chaotic elements present in this piece feel so carefully calibrated that the square coming undone is a significantly jarring moment.

    But night after night the rope of light came undone at that point in the show. I think it just further demonstrates Beltrao’s prowess in thinking about the impact of the entire stage (the sound, the light, etc) and the momentum of the piece. The rope moving allows you to snap out of the intensity for just a quick minute, right before the show draws you back in for the finale.

    For anyone who enjoyed this and appreciated the physicality of the dance – Bruno Duarte often films the work he does in master classes. They’re great glimpses into his process and you get to see him dance like crazy at the end of the 90 second segment. Here’s the one he did at OtB:

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