Review: Viver Brasil’s “Intersections/Ajê” Electrifies Nate Holden Center

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Viver Brasil's "Intersections/Ajê" features original choreography and colorful costumes. (Tim Agler)

Viver Brasil's "Intersections/Ajê" features original choreography and colorful costumes. (Tim Agler)

The Viver Brasil Dance Company presented their production titled “Intersections/Ajê” at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles on February 7; simply put…it was amazing.

This production showcases an evening of jubilant Afro-Brazilian dance, as well as the traditional forros dance, electrifying sambas and orixa tales.

“Intersections/Ajê” also features new original choreography and vibrant costumes, as well as a magnificent poly-rhythmic score.

The first piece of the night was “Morthers and Sons 2013,” which carried the all-female dance ensemble in red-orange attire; they looked stunning and the routine served as the perfect opener. Dancer Rachel Hernandez played the prominent role in this set, as she served as the goddess of the marshes.

After a brief pause, “Aqueous” followed, with the dancers now wearing metallic silver clothing. This segment paid homage to water, and it was a really nice sequence that ignited many claps from the packed house.

The group went out in style when “Ajê,” which was the last number before intermission, hit the stage. “Ajê” tells a story of love, letting go, searching, death and life featuring Afro-Brazilian dance and music. It proved to the highlight of the night, since the crowd gave it a standing ovation as the sensual dancers made their ways off the floor in carnaval fashion.

At intermission, legendary percussionist Paulinho da Costa and dancer-choreographer Keny Long were honored by Bakari Santos, Sergio Mielniczenko and Dr. Gail Greer – it was rather emotional.

The dancing continued, nonetheless, with “Para Xaxa.” This act carries influences of xaxado and forro, both social dances which come from Northeastern Brazil. “Para Xaxa” was sort of a playful, yet colorful piece, but darn entertaining.

“Mamae Oxum” and “Samba No Pe” closed the night out. In “Mamae Oxum,” singers Katia Moraes and Kana Shimanuki made their way to the front of the stage. Both ladies sport resonating vocals, and their musical spirit was felt throughout the entire venue. And with “Samba No Pe,” well, let’s just say that the entire team of dancers, musicians and singers threw down the house. The dancers put on samba-like attire and danced their way to the dances of samba in astonishing manner.

Founded in 1997 by Linda Yudin and Luiz Badaro, Viver Brasil is an LA-based dance company that has a long-standing tradition of embracing the African heritage from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, and brings to life the enchanting and mythic stories of Afro-Brazilian culture. Their shows are characterized by the vivid costumes they use, as well as their dynamic on-stage presence.

Viver Brasil has graced the stages of venues across the U.S., such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall and Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, The American Theatre in Hampton, Va., the Taos Center for the Performing Arts in N.M., and the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Newark, N.J., among others.

The company received a Lester Horton Dance Award for Best Achievement in Music for Dance in 2009, and Outstanding Achievement in World Dance in 2010, as well as several individual nominations for its members.

In addition to their busy performing schedule, Viver Brasil also hosts a variety of community programs and interactive workshops for children and adults including lectures on Afro-Brazilian history and student choreography ensembles.

Edison Millan contributed to this story.

Marvin Vasquez is a Senior Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle, entertainment and sports. Follow him on Twitter: @geo_la
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