Two days ago, we went to see Bale Folclorico in Pelourinho. Bale Folclorico is a dance troupe that performs traditional dances of Bahia, Brazil. Their show was fantastic, with several different themes to keep us on our toes. Photography was prohibited, so I’m using photos from their site.
The first dance was of the Orishas, introduced by Oxala, an Orisha dressed in blue, all the Orishas followed him out and took the stage for themselves, one by one. Their dances revealed their characteristics, much like a possession during a Candomble ceremony would. (This is when I came to the conclusion that my Orisha was NOT Oshun, she danced too carefully).
One of my favorite Orishas, Omolu, maybe known to you as Babalu (Ricky Ricardo, anyone?), had the most awkward, gangly, and uncomfortable looking dance.
He danced as if his hip, then his knees were broken (upon more research, I learned that he has a lame leg, so that explains it). It was nearly painful to watch as he knelt on the ground and scraped at the floor with his hands as he yelled. Very unnerving, but it made the most sense. Umolu is the Orisha of sickness and death, also, Earth.
Later, the fire Orisha came out with a bowl of fire on his head, and two bowls of fire in his hands. He proceeded to dance like this, later putting the bowl on his head on the floor and stepping through it! His feet still burned with flame as he danced around, and the moment the fire was put out, he stepped back into it! You could hear the crowd gasp as he ate flames and rubbed the fire on his body.
The show later moved into other dances, and one that was particularly triumphant was the fisherman’s dance. Led by the Orisha of rivers and the seas, the music started very ethereal and otherworldly, but then moved into a buoyant celebration of life at the sea, and strength in an uncertain adventure.
Which brings me to the capoeiristas, the male dancers. Never in my life have I seen men so fit and so agile! Watching them perform Maculelê, a dance performed with wooden sticks and in some cases, machetes, was amazing. Choreography with props isn’t easy, and especially making them hit on beat?
They proceeded to perform capoeira, with one of them doing what seemed like 100 backflips at once, and another two kicking and spinning with mind-numbing speed. By the end of the performance when everyone got in a circle and danced samba, the male dancers were having so much fun with the female dancers, it looked like one big party. I couldn’t help twitching myself, I wanted to dance so badly.