What happens when you combine hip hop street performers from Brazil’s favelas, with a choreographer classically trained in ballet and modern dance? How about a dynamic dance company headlining at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC?
It’s a dance company that has “little cash, but a whole lot of sass.” That’s how master choreographer, Sonia Destri Lie describes Comphania Urbana de Danca. It is the dance company she founded in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Destri is an internationally renowned dancer and choreographer who spent 35 years in and out of Brazil, working with established dance companies around the world. Over ten years ago, she settled in Rio to create the company of her dreams, taking dancers from the slums of Rio and turning them into a hip hop troupe that transforms the rhythm of daily life into stage performances.
The group consists of eight young dancers from the suburbs and favelas of Rio and expresses their own unique, artistic, urban expression of socialism. In fact their own specialized vocabulary led this vibrant company to invent a new choreographic language altogether. They work on developing appreciation of their Brazilian cultural roots and blend contemporary trends of urban dance with cultural pride.
Americas Now caught up with Companhia Urbana in Washington D.C. during their limited run at the Kennedy Center’s Hip Hop Culture Worldwide Festival. Two of the company’s dancers, Tiago Sousa and Rafael Felipe, sit down to discuss their passion for dancing and the role it plays in affecting positive change in the world.