The contemporary Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo, founded by Paulo Pederneiras in 1975, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, debuted its first work, Maria Maria, the very next year. Featuring original music by Milton Nascimento, a script by Fernando Brandt and choreography by the Argentine Oscar Araiz, the ballet would go on to spend six years on stage and tour fourteen countries. But even though the piece was an immediate critical, popular and commercial success, the group´s distinctive artistic identity, its long-term popularity and its artistic achievements have been the fruits of a long, arduous journey. As a result, the group started operating in its own premises as of 1978.
While the success of Maria Maria was still reverberating throughout Brazil and in various European and Latin American countries, Grupo Corpo (literally Body Group in English) never stopped working, staging no less than six productions between 1976 and 1982. In the first phase of the group´s existence, the influence of Araiz, who in 1980 would write O Último Trem, was evident in varying degrees in the dance troupe´s work. However, the company´s distinctive features and personality were chiefly molded by Paulo Pederneiras, the man responsible for sets and lighting the group´s performances and its artistic direction and the dancer Rodrigo Pederneiras, who left the stage in 1981 to assume the role of full-time choreographer.
In 1985, the company launched what would be its second great success: Prelúdios, a theatrical piece incorporating twenty-four Chopin preludes interpreted by pianist Nelson Freire. It was the group´s first collaboration with Freusa Zechmeister, who remains the company´s costume designer. The show debuted to public and critical acclaim at the First International Dance Festival of Rio de Janeiro and would cement the group´s reputation in the world of contemporary Brazilian dance.
Grupo Corpo then entered a new phase, establishing its own unique theatrical language and choreography. Starting with an erudite repertoire featuring the works of Richard Strauss, Heitor Villa-Lobos and Edward Elgar, among others, the company began combining classical technique with a contemporary re-reading of popular Brazilian dance forms. This would become the group´s trademark.
In 1989, the creative nucleus of the company gained another important collaborator in artist Fernando Velloso. Alongside Zechmeister and Paulo Pederneiras, Velloso helped establish the group´s visual identity, acting as set designer until 2002, when Paulo Pederneiras took over the responsibility.
In the same year the group debuted Missa do Orfanato, a complex theatrical reading of Mozart´s Missa Solemnis k.139. Almost operatic in dimensions, this ballet became such an esthetic triumph that, nearly two decades later, it remains in the company´s repertoire.
The group underwent a radical transformation three years later with the production of 21, a ballet which confirmed the uniqueness of Rodrigo Pederneiras´s choreography and the unmistakable persona of the dance troupe. Utilizing the singular sounds of Brazilian instrumental group Uakti, as well as ten themes composed by Marco Antônio Guimarães, 21 leaves behind the group´s preoccupation with technical form and sees it taking apart melodies and rhythms in order to explore their underlying ideas. The decision to once again use specifically composed scores – a mark of the group´s first three shows in the 1970s – allowed it to further explore the language of popular Brazilian dance. As the critic Rui Fontana Lopes put it, the group had finally found “the most precise translation of the word ballet into the mother tongue.”
In the work that followed, Nazareth, Rodrigo Pederneiras´s fascination with traversing the worlds of both popular and erudite music found a perfect opportunity for fuller expression. Inspired by the verbal games of Brazilian literary icon Machado de Assis (1839-1908) and by the works of Ernesto Nazareth (1863-1934), a seminal figure in the formation of Brazilian popular music, the work was scored by composer and literary theorist José Miguel Wisnik. Though built on a solid, classical foundation, the production brought together in good-humored fashion the light-hearted and sensual elements inherent Brazilian popular dances.
The partnership of Grupo Corpo with contemporary authors has been such a success that scores composed especially for the company have become the norm, and each score has inspired a new creation. An exception came in 2004 with the production of Lecuona, a work that drew on thirteen love songs by the Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963) and in which Rodrigo Pederneiras demonstrated his gift for the creation of pas- de- deux.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, nearly two decades after its inception, Grupo Corpo intensified its international touring. Between 1996 and 1999, it was the resident dance company of the Maison de la Danse in Lyon, France. Several of the group´s creations (Bach, Parabelo and Benguelê) were first staged in Europe over this period.
Today, having created 35 choreographies and more than 2,300 pieces, the Brazilian dance company maintains ten ballets in its repertoire and gives 80 performances a year in places as distinctive as Iceland and South Korea, the United States and Lebanon, Canada, Italy, Singapore, the Netherlands, Israel, France, Japan and Mexico.
The minimalism of Philip Glass (Sete ou Oito Peças para um Ballet); the vigorous pop and urban sounds of Arnaldo Antunes (O Corpo); the primordial experimentalism of Tom Zé (Santagustin and, with Wisnik, Parabelo); the African sensibility of João Bosco (Benguelê); the metaphysical verse of Luís de Camões and Gregório de Mattos; the light touch of Caetano Veloso and Wisnik (Onqotô); the rootsy modernity of Lenine (Breu); the poetry of polarities (Ímã): Grupo Corpo has drawn on all of these elements and more to produce shows of a very diverse character – cerebral, cosmopolitan, primitive, existential, tough – while always keeping in sight the company´s distinctive traits.
GIL  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Gilberto Gil
GIRA  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Metá Metá
DANÇA SINFÔNICA  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Marco Antônio Guimarães
SUÍTE BRANCA  • choreography: Cassi Abranches • music: Samuel Rosa
TRIZ  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • música: Lenine
SEM MIM  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Carlos Núñez and José Miguel Wisnik
ÍMÃ  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: +2 [Moreno, Domenico, Kassin]
BREU  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Lenine
ONQOTÔ  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Caetano Veloso and José Miguel Wisnik
LECUONA  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Ernesto Lecuona
SANTAGUSTIN  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Tom Zé and Gilberto Assis
O CORPO  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Arnaldo Antunes
BENGUELÊ  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: João Bosco
PARABELO  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Tom Zé and Zé Miguel Wisnik
BACH  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • música: Marco Antônio Guimarães
SETE OU OITO PEÇAS PARA UM BALLET  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Philip Glass and Uakti
NAZARETH  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: José Miguel Wisnik
21  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Marco Antônio Guimarães | Uakti
VARIAÇÕES ENIGMA  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Edward Elgar
TRÊS CONCERTOS  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Georg Philip Telemann
A CRIAÇÃO  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Franz Joseph Haydn
MISSA DO ORFANATO  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • música: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
MULHERES  • choreography: Susanne Linke • music: Krysztof Penderecki
UAKTI  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Marco Antônio Guimarães
RAPSÓDIA  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Johannes Brahms
SCHUMANN BALLET  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Robert Schumann
PAS DU PONT  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • música: Heitor Villa-Lobos
DUO  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Heitor Villa-Lobos
CANÇÕES  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Richard Strauss
CARLOS GOMES SONATA  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Antônio Carlos Gomes
BACHIANA  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Heitor Villa-Lobos
PRELÚDIOS  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Frédéric Chopin
SONATA  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Serguei Prokofiev
NOTURNO  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Alberto Nepomuceno
REFLEXOS  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Henrique Oswald | Bruno Kiefer
INTERÂNEA  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Marlos Nobre
TRÍPTICO  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Wagner Tiso
ÚLTIMO TREM  • choreography: Oscar Araiz • music: Milton Nascimento | Fernando Brant
CANTARES  • choreography: Rodrigo Pederneiras • music: Marco Antônio Araújo
MARIA MARIA  • choreography: Oscar Araiz • music: Milton Nascimento | Fernando Brant
Ágatha Faro, Bianca Victal, Dayanne Amaral, Débora Roots, Edésio Nunes, Edmárcio Júnior, Edson Hayzer, Elias Bouza, Filipe Bruschi, Helbert Pimenta, Janaina Castro, Jonathan de Paula, Karen Rangel, Luan Batista, Lucas Saraiva, Malu Figueirôa, Mariana do Rosário, Rafael Bittar, Rafaela Fernandes, Silvia Gaspar, Williene Sampaio, Yasmin Almeida
Grupo Corpo on the road
ALEMANHA Aschaffenburg Baden-Baden Bonn Essen Frankfurt Friedrichshafen Fulda Fürth Hannover Heilbronn Karlsruhe Leverkunsen Ludwigsburg Ludwigshafen Neuss Recklinghausen Remscheid Schweinfurt Velbert Weimar Wiesbaden Wolfsburg ARGENTINA Buenos Aires La Plata AUSTRÁLIA Perth ÁUSTRIA Innsbruck Graz Saint Pölten BÉLGICA Antuérpia Bruges Bruxelas Gent Turnhout BRASIL Aracaju Atibaia Belém Belo Horizonte Blumenau Brasília Caxias do Sul Coronel Fabriciano Cuiabá Curitiba Florianópolis Fortaleza Goiânia Governador Valadares Ilhéus Ipatinga Itabira João Pessoa Joinville Juiz de Fora Londrina Maceió Manaus Mariana Montes Claros Natal Ouro Preto Paulínia Pelotas Ponta Grossa Porto Alegre Recife Ribeirão Preto Rio de Janeiro Sabará Salvador Santos São João del Rei São Luis São Paulo Teresina Timóteo Uberaba Uberlândia Vitória CANADÁ Assomption Baie-Comeau Banff Montréal Ottawa Québec Sherbrooke Vancouver Vernon Toronto CHILE Santiago do Chile CHINA Macau COLÔMBIA Bogotá Cáli CORÉIA DO SUL Seul COSTA RICA San José EQUADOR Guayacquil Quito ESPANHA Barcelona Bilbao Gijon Granada Las Palmas Madri Oviedo Palma de Maiorca San Sebastian Santander Valencia Valladolid ESCÓCIA Edinburgh ESLOVÊNIA Liubliana ESTADOS UNIDOS Amherst Anchorage Ann Arbor Austin Beckett Boston Chicago Cleveland Colorado Springs Columbus Dallas Davis Elmira Fairfax Fayetteville Houston Humboldt Iowa City Key West Long Beach Los Angeles Miami Minneapolis Nashville New Orleans Newark Nova York Oswego Palo Alto Park City Philadelphia Pittsburgh Portland Purchase Richmond Riverside Saint Louis San Diego Santa Barbara Seattle Stanford Tucson Washington West Palm Beach FINLÂNDIA Kuópio FRANÇA Aix-en-Provence Albi Alès Annecy Annemasse Arcachon Bayonne Belfort Biarritz Cannes Chambéry Dijon Gap Grenoble La Rochelle Le Creusot Lyon Martigues Massy Montpellier Mulhouse Nanterre Narbonne Paris Perpignan Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines Sète Sochaux Roubaix Rueil-Malmaison Tarbes Toulouse Valence Valenciennes GRÉCIA Atenas HOLANDA Den Haag HUNGRIA Budapeste INGLATERRA Birmingham Bradford Brighton Epson High Wycombe Hull Londres Manchester Nottingham Paignton Plymouth Salford Sheffield Skegness Southampton IRLANDA Belfast ISLÂNDIA Reykjavik ISRAEL Jerusalém Tel Aviv ITÁLIA Bolonha Brescia Cremona Ferrara Milão Modena Reggio Emilia Spoleto Turim Viareggio Vicenza JAPÃO Tóquio LÍBANO Baalbeck LUXEMBURGO Luxemburgo Wiltz MÉXICO Cidade do México Guadalajara Guanajuato Monterey Puebla Zacatecas NOVA ZELÂNDIA Wellington PAÍS DE GALES Cardiff PORTO RICO San Juan PORTUGAL Lisboa Porto RÚSSIA Moscou SINGAPURA Singapura SUIÇA Baden Basel Fribourg Lugano Monthey Schaffhausen Winterthur Zug Zurich TAILÂNDIA Bangkok TAIWAN Taipei URUGUAI Montevidéu VENEZUELA Caracas