Image credit: Balé de Rua

From 5 -15 August the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love hots up with a summer carnival like no other. Baila Brazil, the latest show from Brazilian dance company Balé de Rua, is set to be a thrilling and unique mix of original music, street dance and Afro-Brazilian culture. Co-founder Fernando Narduchi says: “It’s about the Brazil that we know and love. There is a richness and diversity in the Brazilian culture; the Afro-Brazilian culture runs deep in the identity of Brazil as a country. The show is about spirituality and also about the fight of the people to be free from slavery.”

Marco Antônio Garcia, also a co-founder, talks about how the inspiration for the show came from their personal history:

“It’s our journey through the years together. But it is also inspired by our life as Brazilian people. Our struggle to survive. All our creations are inspired by our day-to-day lives, our religion and our history as people in Brazil.”

The company formed nearly 23 years ago and is currently made up of Fernando Narduchi, Marco Antônio Garcia, José Marciel Silva, 15 dancers and one singer. Narduchi describes how, “It all started from a love of dancing.

“I met Marco in the early nineties. He was a dancer in one of the best groups in town and we became friends, sharing ideas and dreams about dance. In 1992 we decided to create a new group with a new style and to develop a form of street dance unique to Brazil.

“At the time, the classical dance community looked down on us as they felt we had no technique. So we set out to prove that our dance has its own technique and is just as hard as the classical dances. We wanted to be respected. Marco invited our co- founder José Marciel and his brother Alex to join us and by September 1992 we were a company.”

Garcia goes on: “For me, Balé de Rua is a constantly evolving dance company. There’s no way to produce art without freedom. Freedom to create! We are free to study new forms of dance and we are free to let our own form of dance grow and evolve.” This freedom is what gives Balé de Rua its distinctive style and in the case of Baila Brazil Garcia believes its uniqueness comes from its authenticity. “Through the years we have developed our own unique way of creating dance. That’s our identity as Balé de Rua. And that’s what we bring to the show.”

Balé de Rua have performed internationally to audiences in thirteen different countries. Baila Brazil itself premiered at the Sydney Opera House in January. The company enjoy performing in different countries; “We believe dance is a universal language, and we know this for sure because we have danced in so many different places. A single gesture or a single movement can mean many different things to many different people” expresses Narduchi. Garcia describes how “dance is celebration, a celebration of life. That’s what we try to share wherever we go in the world.”

So what can British audiences gain from this exciting cultural experience? Narduchi explains: “Our intention is only ever to touch people’s hearts. That’s all we want. In the end, what we deliver is love. And what could be stronger than love? Besides that, I hope the British audience gain a greater understanding of Brazilian culture and its diversity.”

Narduchi also discusses the future of Balé de Brazil and how they want to continue researching and creating dance and hope to continue touching and enchanting audiences.

“This will be our heritage and our mark on the history of dance. I hope that Balé de Rua continues for generations and generations and we can build a theatre dedicated to dance that lasts forever.”

Baila Brazil is playing at the Southbank Centre as part of the Festival of Love from 5-15 August. For more information and tickets, see their website.