The Nordeste Maracatu Movement – AIDF Funding
So New Year’s day! It’s 2017 and we are off to Brazil. It’s Tom’s first time in the country where his mom is from and it’s mine dance adventure starting now. We are both excited, and looking forward to arriving and getting stuck in.
As I start to settle down, and start to familiarize myself with transports, roads, locations… got my son into a local nursery for half a day, everyday. I then met this Bellydance artist from Recife, Lili Siqueira, she was the founder of Bellydance in Recife and she was a respected professional in the country. When I chatted with her and she realised what I was doing she asked me to be a guest dancer at a 10 year celebration event in Recife. I was so flattered I was nervous and didn’t want to let them down. So I asked my husband to ship my costume over and I did it. I was amazing, I was so excited and happy to be recognised abroad.
So here is a peep of my two performances, opening and closing:
First meeting with Anderson Nogueira at the new Nacao Pernambuco building. 24/01/2017
I am on my way to Olinda, the day is absolutely glorious, the sun was shining so hard I almost forgot you can actually get this much sunshine at 7am in the morning. Recife to Olinda is a 30mins journey and on my way I was thinking about last time I came to Brazil. It was for the World Cup, I was 7 months pregnant and I met Anderson for the first time then. We had a wonderful experience where we did some Maracatu together. Since then I studied and practiced it religiously and I dreamed about parading with Nacao Pernambuco in a carnival season, and here I was on my way to the real dream come true feeling.
I arrived at the new building, still being refurbished and embellished with all these amazing Maracatu props and decoration. The new place used to be an old maternity hospital and Anderson tells me that he was born here. So loads of connections to the new building.
When we arrive at the main studio, I see this poster of the previous Maracatu performances and it made me feel at home, there was pictures of my colleagues from Nottingham right there staring at me. I was lovely to see a link with the UK right there.
Anderson and I had a long chat about what we would be doing for the next few weeks leading up to Carnival, and I could barely contain my excitement to get started.
Anderson and I going over some ideas for the choreographies for 2017
On another meeting we discussed some choreography he put together and how it has evolved with some contemporary moves fusion.
On another meeting Anderson updated me and worked me hard on the new Maracatu steps. It was hot, it was sticky, but I survived.
Visit to study other Maracatus from Recife. 04/0/2017 – 11/0/2017
There are a list of active traditional maracatus in Recife, Maracatu Nacao Pernambuco differ from these other groups as they take a modern outlook to their performance, moves and costumes.
So, I went to visit Maracatu Almirante do Forte. They were based in Varzea, a poor area of Recife, it was very hard to get access to it, and I was pleased I was being taken by Anderson who comfortably drove his way in through narrow lanes and bumpy streets where people’s houses’ front being part of the street. This other guy called Bruno from Washington, USA, who was visiting the place on the same day to do a video project on Maracatu Almirante do Forte, was taken there by a Uber driver who got nervous and decided he wouldn’t drop him off at the final destination. Bruno had to walk in which was a very nervous racking experience, but once he got there he was fine. Phew!
So, everything about them is very humble, the school is the owner’s garage, and they actually practice on the streets where cars are then unable to drive by and pedestrians walk through the musicians and dancers as they rehearse.
Master Tete singing at the rehearsal:
Below you can see Anderson guiding the Abe players on how to move and play at the same time.
Inside the building with all their history hanging on their four walls.
Anderson and I looking at their costumes for 2017, the fabrics and structure is quite different from the Nacao Pernambuco. There are bigger and there is more fuss to the fabric and details. The little doll is called ‘Menininha’ which was my gradma’s name. Again more connections on this trip.
- So, carnival it’snt here yet, but it just seems that more and more extincting things are happening. I managed to catch the seasonal FitDance congress in Recife, so guess what!?! I went to it, of course! 05/02/2017
Trip to Museum of Frevo with Dede Andrade, Ballet Popular of Recife Dancer and Dance teacher, 07/02/2017
So after regular twice weekly trips to Olinda since late January, I have also got involved with other dance classes in the city, and in one of them I had the privilege to meet Aldemo Andrade, better know as Dede. A fantastic, fabulous and amazing ex-Recife Folkloric Ballet dancer and choreographer, now a dance teacher in Recife. We bonded straight away and he took me to the places that are new and different in the city related to dance…. and some new coffee shops too, of course!
It was fantastic to see how the city is embracing its culture more seriously and creating spaced where locals and visitors can enjoy and witness the folkloric dance that we so hard fight to keep them alive.
Museum of Frevo
After one of my meeting with Anderson at the Nacao Pernambuco school in Olinda, I decided to wonder to the top of Olinda to have a ook around and check out what’s happening. As I get to the top I see TV cameras, massive speakers a stage set up and a whole bunch of people gathering around. The I realised I was in the middle of the action, it was Frevo day and there was performances and presentations and workshops all over the city. So I found myself a nice spot and watched it for hours….. it was just amazing.
We have had a number of meetings of meeting with the costume designers and makers and we have been discussing the costumes, and even though they are all mainly done and ready, I had the opportunity to discuss with them about fabrics, trimmings and influences from Europe as they are a modern Maracatu. I managed to influence the outfit of one section of the group, and this year their costumes were plain without the traditional ‘chita’ fabric, which gave to it a more universal look.
Things are beginning to get real now. Only a few weeks to go until Carnival is here and we are having our first street rehearsal. We are out in the old Recife streets, no costumes, just normal every day clothes and it really doens’t matter and the vibe and the atmosphere consumes your whole body, the drumming takes over your heart beat and you can’t do anything but move to it.
Whilst we are waiting for our troupe to start, I had the privilege to witness a group of post-graduate dance students doing a live performance on the streets. They were dancing folkloric regional dances. The one of the video is “Bumba Meu Boi”
As if I wasn’t busy enough, I was invited to participate in two Carnival classes in Recife.
Carnival dance classes in Recife 17/02/2017
So the first parade is here! Heart beats faster than normal! I am about to face a 5 hour long parade, up the narrow streets of Olinda. 20/02/2017
Shoes are on, leather shoes in a hot weather is a recipe for disaster, I have therefore thought of the future and strapped my feet with waterproof surgical tape. I feel like a professional ballet dancer, preparing for a life time of rehearsal. We aren’t yet wearing our new costumes, as it isn’t officially carnival yet (although we have started partying the week before), but we are still wearing luxurious costumes from previous years. As I went to this parade on my own, I didn’t have a chance to take photographs or videos with my friends, but I got a video from someone who recorded us and I make an appearance around 1.46mins. In any case, you don’t need to see me, all you need to do is soak up this amazing energy from this night parade, that shows what pre-carnival is like. Please don’t forget…. it isn’t carnival yet! :)
The week before carnival. My student from Nottingham arrives, and I introduce her to Anderson who gives her a crash course on Maracatu according to Nacao Pernambuco and gets her all excited about it. 21/02/2017
After that the marathon on parades starts…….
Parading at Cidade Alta Olinda on the 22/02/2017
Performance at Cidade de Pau Dalho 23/02/2017
Carnival is here…..
Parading as one of the main dancers in Olinda with Maracatu Camaleao 25/02/2017
Parading in Bezerros 26/02/2017
Parading in Olinda with Maracatu Nacao Pernambuco 27/02/2017
At the end when we returned to the school:
Recife Antigo Performance on the stage and on the streets 28/02/2017
On the same day I saw other amazing groups performing on the stage, but this is something that I have never managed to see it live, the ‘papangus’.
Last official performance in the Old Recife 28/02/2017
Nacao Pernambuco on the National TV on our last day of parading in Recife 28/02/2017