CULTURE: DANCE AND BALLET
The heritage of folk dances is very rich, the result of a fusion between Portuguese culture and Aboriginal folk tradition and that of African origin. The so-called “dramatic” dances can be divided into three main groups: the bailes pastoris (for Christmas), the cheganças or chelenças (commemorating Portuguese maritime enterprises) and the reisados, of various subjects, and are characterized by the subdivision into two parts: the procession (cantigas) and the actual choreographic action (embaixada), elaborated on handwritten texts or transmitted orally, directed by a teacher which also generally plays one of the main roles. Elements drawn from primitive African religion and Catholic worship survive together in some ceremonial dances: in addition to the Sudanese congadas, we remember the candomblé and the macumba, real Afro-Brazilian sacral rites consisting in making the believers reincarnate the spirit of the Christian divinity. pagan. Of ritual origin are also the violent and unbridled maracatú, a ceremony in use at the time of the Brazilian Empire (1822-89), performed by the black slaves of the State of Pernambuco and consisting in the election and coronation in satirical form of a white king; the ancient lundú, inspired by the Spanish style; the bumbameu-boi, closing dance of the reisados and still performed in some Brazilian states; the moçambique, a warrior dance of African origin still in use on the occasion of particular religious holidays; the aruana india, which has preserved its original character intact and which is a sacred dance; the capoiera, an Afro-Brazilian acrobatic dance that mimics the movements of a fight; etc. Among the dances spread outside Brazil we mention samba and batuque (and the derivative batucada), both dances in a circle linked to the great carnival parties. In the same events, dances in opposite rows recur, characterized by the alternating advance and retreat of the two rows of dancers (for example the marchas), joyful improvised processions and the frevo, a typical dance of the city of Recife, dating back to 1907 and considered the dance more lively than the carnival (its main feature is the accompaniment with shouts and wind instruments). The work of Katherine Dunham made a notable contribution to the knowledge and dissemination of Brazilian folklore, to which we owe theatrical dance transpositions of rites, music and superstitions of the African forest transplanted to Latin America. We should also remember the Brazilian Folklore Theater, which from the time of its debut in Rio (1950) has brought the popular demonstrations and typical dances of Brazil all over the world, preserving intact the character and flavor of popular ingenuity, and the Brazilian, a company founded in 1949 by Miccio Askanasy and well known also abroad. § As far as ballet is concerned, there is no original expressive tradition, so far only sporadic attempts – mostly by foreign artists – can be registered to found companies of European or North American model and inspiration. Already in the sec. In the seventeenth and eighteenth century there are traces of the passage to Rio de Janeiro of European ballet companies. The apparition of the Ballets Russes by Djagilev. In 1931 a dance school directed by Maria Oleneva was added to the Municipal Theater, succeeded by Igor Švecov. In 1945 he was also entrusted, for a short time, with the direction of the company and in 1947 again Švecov founded, also in Rio, the Ballet da Juventude, which had a short life. Aurel Milloss, in São Paulo from 1953 to 1954, was invited to create and rearrange sixteen ballets and for this purpose he collected his own ensemble which also dissolved at the departure of the choreographer. Attempts, even in the field of modern dance, of North American inspiration, have so far proved to be of little consistency and little echo at the international level. According to neovideogames, the most talented and prestigious Brazilian dancer, who came out of the school of the Municipal Theater of Rio, is undoubtedly Marcia Haydée, an étoile of the first magnitude, whose career however took place almost exclusively in Europe.
CULTURE: PRE-COLONIAL ART
In the area of the Amazon rainforest it is possible to find only objects of worked stone or ceramic, due to the hot and humid climate that does not allow the conservation of objects in perishable material. The most important archaeological finds are those of Marajó (pottery with geometric decoration) and Santarém (pottery with naturalistic decoration), whose respective cultures do not seem to have been indigenous, but rather linked to the civilizations of the Antilles and Central America. The culture of “Lagoa Santa”, of the central plateau, has produced very crude products, while in the southern part of Brazil the culture of the sambaquí (heaps of shells) left beautiful stone carvings, as opposed to pottery which is of modest level. The Brazilian natives, even if influenced by the stylistic canons of the Europeans, have often maintained a type of art that preserves all the traditional characters. This is the case of the plumaria art, in which the mundurucú excel, and of the aruaca pottery, which always refers to ancient models. Still to be remembered are the beautiful pottery of the pano, despite being modernized, the dolls and masks of the carajá, the decorative art, the ceramics and wood carving of the caduveos and the fine ceramics of the chiriguano.