by Mason Chapello (B.F.A. 2018)
Assistant Professor Daniel Roberts led the Brazil Dance Tour Group on a unique 15-day experience in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. Department Chair Susan Hadley created and directed the program two years ago, and it is now a permanent study abroad offering. Designed to create a distinctive cultural experience for Ohio State dance majors, Dance Brazil introduced the dancers to Brazilian art and culture. The students performed and studied with Brazilian dance masters, learn first-hand about Afro-Brazilian culture and engage in cultural exchange with Brazilian dancers.
Before setting on this expedition, the twelve dancers took a class on the history, culture and language of Brazil in order to gain a respectful and educated global context on their study abroad program. Starting in October 2017, the dancers began learning ten repertoire dance pieces that displayed a diversified pallet of dance, including tap, modern, contemporary, jazz, step and African dance. Faculty, guest artists and cast members choreographed the repertory, which the Tour Group performed for grade schools, universities and local communities.
Along with performance, the tour group experienced Brazilian culture by participating in classes in Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art with elements of dance and gymnastics, taking Samba classes, which is Brazil’s national Dance, attending music and dance performances and meeting local collegiate and professional dancers. The group also travelled to the historic city of Lençois in the center of Bahia where they performed in the round.
When asked about their experience in Brazil, students said:
Creating lifelong relationships with people I met and danced with for only some hours at a time. Dance is a universal language and allows me to communicate with anyone from anywhere in the world.
I really enjoyed performing for the students. That was the most beautiful part of this experience. Just to see how the student's faces glowed up because they got to see the movement which was different but they also got to see faces that looked just like them.
I got a lot of responses about being happy to see Americans that were also black. Also, I appreciated the historical aspect of the trip. The program actually took out time out to give up background information to Salvador, Bahia, and Brazil.
Everything. I have found a new way to look at life. This trip was absolutely life changing and has taught me so much about life and myself.
I loved performing for the children. They were the most grateful people.
Seeing so many people of African descent and experiencing a culture that is so music and dance oriented.