By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – As Latin America’s largest metropolis, São Paulo’s got an incredibly vibrant cultural scene, one capable of fascinating the pickiest visitors from across the world. Like a magnet, it attracts the best Brazil can offer in terms of artistic diversity, from world-class cuisines to the most authentic urban art.
Among the various reasons São Paulo’s art landscape is internationally famous for, the capital’s lively dance scene is undoubtedly one of them. While talented Brazilian dancers from all over the country dream of performing on São Paulo’s most prestigious stages, international directors from renowned dance groups are frequently participating in artistic residences in the local companies.
Intense, overwhelming, São Paulo’s dance universe can be experienced everywhere: it is present in sophisticated theaters, as well as across the peripheries. Pleasing the most diverse tastes, and promoting several free events throughout the year, dance in São Paulo is, indeed, for everyone.
As the world celebrates the 37th International Dance Day this Monday, April 29th, The Rio Times has selected the top recommendations for those who want to dive into São Paulo’s enchanting dance life. We hope you fall in love with it, just like we did.
For all of those interested in the erudite and contemporary dance from the capital, watching both São Paulo Companhia de Dança and Balé da Cidade de São Paulo is mandatory. These two are considered the most important groups in the city, and their talent is certainly worth their fame.
While Balé da Cidade was founded in 1968 to perform as São Paulo’s Municipal Theater “corps de ballet”, São Paulo Companhia de Dança was created in 2008, working under São Paulo’s Government Bureau of Culture.
Balé da Cidade and São Paulo Companhia de Dança’s “corps de danse” own a strong ballet background, and their work is consistently influenced by the European classic dance. However, their eclectic repertoire, inspired by the most avant-guard dancers, is always blowing the audience’s minds.
No wonder why Balé da Cidade’s latest work is among the most talked-about spectacles these days: an astonishing, provocative, contemporary version of Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” (1913). Meanwhile, São Paulo Dance Company will soon release a promising spectacle by Canadian director Édouard Lock, one of the most respected dance professionals of our time.
Although the tickets are usually not the cheapest for this kind of spectacle, these two companies frequently promote sessions – both in the city center and in the peripheries – with very accessible prices. To follow their agenda, make sure to check the São Paulo Companhia de Dança and Bale da Cidade official pages.
Apart from the two consecrated companies, São Paulo has a lot to offer when it comes to contemporary dance. And Sesc is definitely a hub for top-quality dance events – always cheap prices, sometimes even free.
A private institution maintained by business owners from all over São Paulo’s State, the Sesc chain is a benchmark for São Paulo’s bustling dance scene. For many times, Sesc has been home to the most expected dance premieres of small and medium-sized groups. At Sesc, it isn’t rare to spot youngsters standing in long lines to guarantee their tickets.
Among the 43 great Sesc units spread across São Paulo’s State, dance fans are particularly interested in Sesc Belenzinho and Sesc 24 de Maio, where the dance program usually seems more attractive. However, those curious about Sesc should also check the dance events at Sesc Paulista, a skyscraper with futurist vibes; Sesc Pinheiros, Sesc Pompéia and Sesc Vila Mariana.
The “cheap and good” combo can also be found at the traditional Centro Cultural Olido, located in São Paulo’s center. Run by the City Bureau of Culture, Olido promotes urban dance jams, samba-rock balls, forró music parties, among many other attractions – free entrance, most of the time. Check Centro Cultural Olido’s page to follow their upcoming events.
Plenty are the other cultural centers and rooms that dance enthusiasts should explore. One of them is Teatro Sérgio Cardoso, located in Bixiga and constantly presenting smaller dance companies, such as Intuição Cia de Ballet and Companhia de Danças de Diadema. Quite regularly, São Paulo Companhia de Dança also performs at Sérgio Cardoso.
Another venue worth checking out is Centro Cultural de São Paulo, in Vergueiro, which also offers an excellent dance program across the year. What’s more, at Centro de Referência de Dança de São Paulo, in Centro, one can not only appreciate dance works of the highest level, but actually participate in their dance workshops and courses.
If appreciating free, outdoor dance performances sounds like the perfect program, do not miss the burning cultural life of the famous Avenida Paulista. Every Sunday, from early morning until the sunset, street artists try to impress pedestrians with all types of performances – from break dancers who seem to defy gravity to ravishing tango duos.
Blending art and resistance, the Afro-Brazilian dance scene is an essential part of São Paulo’s culture. The growing plurality of São Paulo’s Afro dance groups shows they are, now, stronger than ever.
The most famous one is Ilú Obá de Min, an all-female, highly politized group that honors the Afro-Brazilian religious music and dance traditions. Every now and then, Ilú performs on the streets or in theaters. Check Ilú Obá de Min page to know about their dance courses and upcoming performances.
Another way to experience the best from the Afro-Brazilian dance traditions is following Grupo Cupuaçu, an art collective that preserves and promotes the Afro-Brazilian culture from Maranhão, a State from Northeastern Brazil.
Founded in 1986 by musician Tião Carvalho, Group Cupuaçu rehearses every Thursday in Morro do Querosene (Butantã), from 8PM to 11PM. Those interested in joining the classes are welcome to attend the rehearsals.