A Blast Of Dancing Energy At New Wimbledon Theatre

Transport yourself to Brazil with Brazouka

Energetic, acrobatic and athletic are the first words which come to mind when I think of last night's performance of 'Brazouka', the Pamela Stephenson-Connolly devised show directed by Arlene Philips.

Preceded by an unexpected introduction from Billy Connolly, the show began in a riot of colour as the dancers filled the stage set as a London club.

The international cast includes dancers from Brazil, Argentina, the Netherlands, Russia… and Leeds and they are all incredible dancers performing some amazing tricks, including some of the girls being thrown around like rag dolls in a very clever 'pre-flight' sequence as we are flown to Brazil.

The show then charts the story of Braz dos Santos from lowly fisherman to internationally acclaimed dancer being guided along his journey by the eight Orixas (deities) of the region in which he lives. Braz himself narrates the story along the way and at first I found his style unnatural and I wondered if it might have been better for an off stage narration to link the scenes and story told in dance.

We start off in Braz’ native village of Porto Seguro, a fishing village meaning 'safe harbour' and Braz tells us how he was forced to leave school in order to join the fishing fleet and earn money to support his family. However Braz wants to dance and to learn the Lambada in particular and we were treated to a couple of scenes of steamy dancing which had the audience clapping enthusiastically.

Seeing dance as a means to earn money, rather than fishing, Braz enters a dance competition and is spotted by Parisian talent scouts who want him to come to Paris. Although his father, a shaman, forbids him to go since the Lambada has been banned, his mother helps him to get his passport so that he can travel to Paris where his dance style becomes famous.

Throughout, the dancing is fast and furious and often induced gasps from the crowd as the male dancers literally threw the girls around and the finale had the audience on their feet attempting similar gyrations to the dancers on stage. A standing ovation from an audience in which I spotted a few professional dancers is testament itself that this is a show worth seeing.

By Anne Horsburgh

September 17, 2014

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Brazouka: At New Wimbledon Theatre until Saturday