Features Editor Sid Langley goes nuts over the Brazilians...
Danielle Pavam's English is pretty good, but sometimes slips. When it does she ignores her native Portuguese and resorts to body language.
It?s amazing what you can understand from a dancer?s sinuous shoulders and whirling wrists accompanied by a smile like a supernova and eyes sparkling like a dark quartz from a hidden valley in the Amazon rainforest.
We?re sitting in the wings of the stage at Sadlers Wells. Her fellow members of Brazilian troupe Grupo Corpo are ?warming down? from running through a few finer details of lifts and turns under the insistent eye of rehearsal director Carmen Purri.
Some of them are doing things with their legs and hips I can barely achieve with my fingers, although I did do a couple of my finest Morecombe and Wise steps midstage, just so I can boast I have danced at Sadlers Wells.
The group opened the British leg of their tour to a standing ovation here the night before and it?s buoyed Danielle and her fellow dancers immensely.
?The audience last night was fantastic,? she tells me. ?It just lifts you up when you get this response.? Her arms and shoulders do the movement.
The whole point of our chat is to get some sense of the individual culture of Grupo Corpo (it means Body Group). While they are intensely individual dancers (as the second half of the current show illustrates) there is a commonality about the way they move, about their mindset.
There is a house style which fuses folk dance vibrancy with the clarity of classical technique.
?Yes,? agrees Danielle. ?It has a lot to do with the way Rodrigo (Pederneiras, resident choreographer) makes dances, but it also has a lot to do with our native sense of rhythm and movement.?
There ? s much bodyhb ody language at this point in our conversation.
?It?s something that every Brazilian child has. It seems to come up into our legs from the ground. There is music and rhythm all around us from a very early age, lots of folk music, native singing, things like that.?
Danielle herself started dancing early, from the age of four. In Brazil dance training means a strong dose of classical discipline, which, allied to the distinctive and largely instinctive movements and rhythms, means that there is a vibrancy and energy in even classical dance moves.
Danielle?s career is very typical of many of her fellow 21 dancers.
She trained hard as a dancer from childhood upwards before she went on to university. But the urge to perform was so strong that she went back to it, giving up her academic career.
She had a spell training in Cuba, renowned for the strongly Russian-influenced rigour of its ballet schools and its open-mindedness about native folk traditions, and there she met her Cuban husband, now dancing with a group she used to be in the province of Minas Gerais.
That?s where the town of Belo Horizonte is, about 400 miles from Rio, and the home of the Pederneiras family who set up Grupo in 1975 and still guide guard its style and expansion.
Extensive sponsorship has meant the group has been able to expand artistic horizons and tour in America and Europe, establishing themselves as one of the world?s cutting edge groups and developing and expanding on a strongly individual tradition.
Meanwhile, Danielle the dancer has gone suddenly shy over the possibility of children.
It would be bound to be a dancer, I suggest.
She shrugs those expressive shoulders and turns on the megawatt grin as she says: ?All Brazilian children are born dancers.?
* Grupo Corpo are at Birmingham Hippodrome on Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm. Box office 0870 730 1234.