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Brighton Year-Round 2024

Sao Paulo Dance Company

Genre: Ballet, Contemporary, Dance

Venue: Brighton Dome


Low Down

Three new dance pieces showcase the phenomenal skill of Brazil’s finest contemporary ballet company. Making their debut in the UK, it’s intense, soulful and exhilarating.

With choreography by Goyo Montero (Acosta Danza resident choreographer) Nacho Duato (Berlin State Ballet Artistic Director) and Cassi Abranches (who recently made Black Sabbath The Ballet for Birmingham Royal Ballet) and Produced by Dance Consortium, the tour continues nationwide until 23 March 2024. Catch it you can.


Photo of Gnawa by Iari Davies



Five years in the making, postponed by the pandemic, this scintillating triple bill is well worth the wait. These are dancers seemingly unfazed by fiendishly complicated footwork or gravity defying lifts. Their effort finds expression as joy, and is a joy to watch.

Goyo Montero’s Anthem is an immediate plunge into a pulsating underworld. The 16-strong company, androgynous, dusted with chalk and in costumes that barely register, shiver, shake and glide as one, to a heartbeat overlaid with a drone in Owen Belton’s powerful score. Sculptural lighting (Pedro de Christo, excellent throughout) shapes bodies and highlights limbs in an image filled and emotionally driven half hour. At times they seem like a gang of wild protesters, a murmuration of starlings, or a marble Soviet-era memorial sprung to life.  Such striking images provoke ideas and it’s tempting to try and trace a narrative. Better, I think, to absorb Anthem’s feel and sound, the clever intricacy of movement and complex interplay between dancers.

While Gnawa by Nacho Duato initially shares Anthem’s aesthetics – the men in simple costumes, similar choreographic attitudes – it soon establishes a look and feel all its own. Inspired by the Gnawa people, brought as slaves to Duato’s home city of Valencia, the Sufic and North African folk beats of the music (created by seven composers) propel the dancers through beautiful duets. Silky black dresses swirl gracefully around airborne women, feet flexed at the ankle folk-dance style. Duato has fashioned an elegant dance with a stand-out pas de deux by Ammanda Rosa and Nielson Souza; ardent and effortless despite its technical and athletic demands.

The final piece switches up the pace and the mood.  Agora, by Cassi Abranches, is busy, buzzy, earthy coloured and decisively rhythmic (music is by Brazilian rock musician Sebastian Piracés). Syncopated, street-smart moves give a real flavour of Brazil now, its multi-cultural population and African roots.  Joyful, flirtatious and with some heart stopping leaps and catches, it rounds off a memorable evening by a hugely impressive company.