Aché Brasil

Venue: Massey Theatre, New Westminster Date: 9 October, 2003

Reviewer: John Jane

Eclilson de Jesus has been almost single-handedly responsible for bringing capoeira (pronounced kapp-o-era) to Canada and is a highly regarded Master of capoeira. In 1990 he decided to make Vancouver his new home. Since then, he has toured extensively, teaching this ancient Brazilian art form and touring with his performance group Aché Brasil.

Capoeira is a spectacular Afro-Brazilian martial art dance form that originated from the Pernambuco province. It combines gravity defying acrobatics with improvised street dancing.

Mestre de Jesus bought his 12 member troupe of dancers and musicians to the Massey theatre for a colourful display of authentic dances. The ninety-minute show was in direct contrast to the venue with its gloomy staging and sub-standard sound system.

The programme began with musicians simulating the sounds of the Amazon jungle. Moments later, barefoot dancers arrived on stage and propelled by the dense percussion, they performed a finely choreographed dance which characterized traditions of the Amazonian Indians.

Some of the interpretations were original folk dances that depicted the typical way of life of the peasant population. For example, the Colheita is a dance that represented farm workers harvesting beans in their baskets, while, the Puxada de Rede symbolized fishermen casting their nets just before the sun rose.

For the finale, Aché Brasil re-created the jubilant atmosphere of ‘Carnaval’, a festival normally associated with Mardi Gras. With a potent mix of capoeira, seductive sambas and gorgeous Sambistas dressed in dazzling costumes, the audience was transported to the streets of Rio.

The show was perhaps as educational as it was entertaining. It was unfortunate that most of the leader’s narrative was lost in the theatre’s poor sound system.

Aché Brasil are worthy ambassadors of their country’s outstanding musical heritage.

© 2003, John Jane