Samba Fogo: All That Glitters (or Burns) | Buzz Blog
We need your help.

Newspapers and media companies nationwide are closing or suffering mass layoffs since the coronavirus impacted all of us starting in March. City Weekly's entire existence is directly tied to people getting together in groups--in clubs, restaurants, and at concerts and events--which are the industries most affected by new coronavirus regulations.

Our industry is not healthy. Yet, City Weekly has continued publishing thanks to the generosity of readers like you. Utah needs independent journalism more than ever, and we're asking for your continued support of our editorial voice. We are fighting for you and all the people and businesses hardest hit by this pandemic.

You can help by making a one-time or recurring donation on PressBackers.com, which directs you to our Galena Fund 501(c)(3) non-profit, a resource dedicated to help fund local journalism. It is never too late. It is never too little. Thank you. DONATE

Samba Fogo: All That Glitters (or Burns)

by

comment
If you came to Samba Fogo’s Fogo Na Cabeça (Fire in the Head) this weekend expecting beautiful women in glitter and feathers shaking it like Carnival never ended, well, there was that. But there was also so, so much more.---

The curtain rose, revealing a young woman in white. She and the other dancers seemed oblivious to one another, each performing her own movements separately against the silence. With the first martial drumbeats, the members of Samba Fogo showed themselves to be a powerful force combining ritualistic dance and dynamic energy for a spectacular display of Brazilian culture.

The first piece, “Avaninha,” is the first of several pieces inspired by the Orixa dances of Brazil. These dances draw on the rites and legends surrounding traditional Afro-Brazilian elemental deities. The women of Samba Fogo took us on a riveting whirlwind tour of these spirits, gorgeously expressing a wide range of style and symbolism. From the vigor of hunters and warriors to the sensuality of snakes and rivers, one got the sense that the dançarinas were not so much performing steps as channeling the raw strength of the Orixas. The most sensational of these was “Lightning and Fire,” featuring impressive fire spinning and a moving solo by choreographer and artistic director Lorin Hansen.

Also on display was the formidable Brazilian martial art, capoeira. Equal parts dance, acrobatics and deadly force, Samba Fogo capoeristas gave an impressive, gravity-defying demonstration of both the well-known slow style of capoeira and a faster regional version. New for this reviewer was the Maculelê, a dance-like combat game using sticks, machetes and again, fire. The spirit and joy with which the capoeristas perform Maculelê are an intriguing counterpoint to the game’s, and capoeira’s dark origins in the slave plantations of colonial Brazil.

Any review of Fogo Na Cabeça would be remiss were it not to mention Samba Fogo’s impressive band. Capoeira, the Maculelê and Orixa dancing are all intensely rhythmic and require excellent and energetic musicians to provide the backbone of the performance. The musicianship of Samba Fogo’s band is unparalleled. In addition to skilled percussionists, the band also featured soothing Brazilian guitar, lovely female vocalists and the eerie tones of the berimbau, a traditional Brazilian string instrument. The band really came to the forefront during the second act: during the seductive dance piece “Oxum” and the musical interlude in the coco style of Northern Brazil. In the finale, the drummers and dancers joined forces to back up Samba Rio, the Rio de Janeiro-based form of samba. When you think of the sparkly and spunky Brazilian beauties in all those pictures of Carnival, you’re thinking of Samba Rio. The glitz and impossibly high-heeled footwork made for a dazzling end to a dramatic show. For those uneasy with the dance world, this is not a demure show requiring polite applause and snooty dance-talk. Samba Fogo brings passion, fire and pure joy to their performance. I would not miss the next one.