Dance Brazil brings dazzling Capoeira and modern dance to Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts

Dance Brazil brings dazzling Capoeira and modern dance to Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts

Image: Dance Brazil Dance Brazil, which blends the fire of Afro-Brazilian martial arts with modern dance aesthetics, will bring a soul-stirring evening of dance to Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts on Friday, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. A post-show Art to Heart Q&A session with the company follows the performance.

A morning performance, part of the Quick Center's ArtsBound Schoolday Series, will take place at 10 a.m. on Feb. 11. This program is suitable for children in grades 4 and up.

Under the artistic direction of Jelon Vieira, Dance Brazil captivates audiences around the country with the vibrant movements of Capoeira, a unique art form Time Magazine has called "martial art with an African beat." The company's stirring performances have also captured the attention of critics.

"There can't be much anywhere to match the strength, flexibility, speed and idiomatic allure of the dozen dancers and musicians of Dance Brazil," wrote a reviewer for The Washington Post.

Dance Brazil's company features eight dancers, seven musicians and six capoeiristas, who are skilled in the rhythmic leaps, high kicks and balancing poses of the martial art form. In dance after dance, the choreography and music blend in a pulse-pounding spectacle.

In 1977, Vieira founded Dance Brazil, which evolved from grassroots workshops at the Clark Center for the Arts in New York City. Recognizing its potential, legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey joined the board of directors and helped give the company focus, emphasizing its ability to speak to a broad North American community. Within a few years, Dance Brazil premiered at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall.

It was in 1985 that the company truly solidified its voice with the premiere of "Orfeo Negro," a piece that established its unique fusing of Afro-Brazilian and modern dance. Since then the company has performed for appreciative audiences throughout Europe, Asia and Brazil, as well as in respected venues across the United States.

Vieira has worked with many major American dance companies and cultural institutions, including the Caribbean Cultural Center in New York and the Carver Community Cultural Center in San Antonio. CityLore, a New York City community organization, honored him for his lifetime contribution to New York culture, and he received an award from the Brazilian Cultural Center in New York for being the "pioneer of Capoeira in the U.S."

Vieira, who has taught Capoeira to film stars Wesley Snipes and Eddie Murphy, has been a guest master teacher at Yale, Columbia, Princeton and Stanford universities and lists the films "Brenda Starr," "Rooftops" and "Boomerang" among his choreography credits. When at home in Brazil, he teaches children and young adults in Boca do Rio, using Capoeira to build discipline and self-esteem and help young people become a vital part of society.

He also works to spread Capoeira to U.S. cities, a venture that included a program with Dance Connecticut that provided year-round dance and Capoeira instruction for schoolchildren in Hartford.

"The urban neighborhoods are so critical throughout the world," Vieira said. "I feel it's my responsibility to work within these communities for the good of one and all."

Tickets for the evening performance are $40, $35 and $30. Tickets for the morning performance, which is geared the school groups, are $7 and study guides are available. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit

Posted On: 01-12-2005 10:01 AM

Volume: 37 Number: 137