Sunday, August 10, 2008

Capioera Knights ****

Capioera Knights is a joyful, energetic and spectacular show featuring a cast of dancers and musicians from the favelas, shanty towns in Rio De Janiero.

The 8-strong male dance troupe somersault and backflip their way through a fast-moving hour, with a loose narrative explaining the roots of capioera, the 'dance that kills', which African slaves used as a form of martial art, disguising it as fluid and graceful dance moves to avoid the watchful eyes of their oppressors. The potted history of Brazilian musical and martial culture continues and culminates in two stand-out routines: a football-inspired number featuring some amazing acrobatics and dancing; and an uplifting samba routine which had the audience up on their feet.

As well as the dancers, a full samba band plays throughout, featuring some great heart-pounding percussion and some infectious rhythms. Between the displays of acrobatics and dance, the band is fronted by a lively female vocalist who sings traditional samba numbers whilst the musicians behind get lost in their respective rhythms. Sadly, this was the one weak spot in the show. Although these numbers were obviously included to allow the dancers a well-earned rest, unfortunately her voice was not quite strong enough to carry some of the songs, meaning these slices of the show felt more like filler than perhaps they should.

That was quickly forgotten though as soon as the finale started - a carnival number featuring the entire troupe which started on stage and ended up spilling out onto the street outside. The sheer energy and enthusiasm, coupled with the performers' obvious joy and pride at showing off their culture and skill meant everyone that left had a massive smile on their face.

And that is pretty much what the festival is all about.

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