A Pit Stop in Sao Paulo

“Whoosh! I’ve just left Sao Paulo and am reflecting on what a wonderful time I had there. Already, I’m planning my return” – Domingo 20 Abril

My very first impressions were ace: I passed through the city on my way to the Hopaholics Lindy hop dance camp back in February. That evening three skateboarders came whizzing down a main road against the flow of busy downtown traffic. How dashing – how daring! My teenage ninja heros!

Some Sao Paulo graffiti.

Some Sao Paulo graffiti.

My impressions on returning to Sao Paulo after Rio were not so good: oh crikey, what an UGLY place! Grey concrete high rises, scruffy graffiti and lots of street poverty. Last time I’d seen Sao Paulo at night and I think swooning over guerilla skateboarders had given me rose-tinted ‘oculos’.

However, over the mere two weeks that I spent within one of Planet Earth’s biggest urban jungles I began to glimpse something bright beyond the grey. Social slands of ´respite, light and delight’. Gem-like hives of rich creative activity that I devoured.

Let me tell you how it happened…..

Sweet graffiti of an African Mary.

Sweet graffiti Virgin Mary by the bus stop in Butanta.

 

Couchsurfing and Contemporary Dance  

Tercafeira 8 – I decided to get into the swing of Couchsurfing following Soyeon’s recommendation and my first hosts Amanda and Ayume couldn’t have been better.

Amanda had just returned home from a Contemporary dance class. Ooooh, interesting! We compared our experiences of flinging our bodies about, all in the name of creative freedom and self expression.

The following day Ayume and I cycled to the USP campus nearby. She´s a film student there and was still buzzing following a recent masterclass with Jean Pierre Jeunet, the maker of Amelie! We chattered about our favourite films as we pedalled around this clean organised green space full of handsome contemporary buildings. For a moment I felt that I was back at the equally zen UEA campus in Norwich, a favourite haunt of mine.

Needless to say: I love university campuses!

Varying banners of Political Protest at the cantina - USP Campus, Sao Paulo.

A political hoe down at the cantina – USP Campus, Sao Paulo.

That evening we took the Metro to Santa Cecilia to meet some of Ayume’s pals.

We sipped the most sour wine we’d ever tasted! but their company was fabulous: Luis, an actor and rising star, Fernanda a film maker of dance and Andre, a contemporary dancer who tours the globe. By the end of the night I felt thoroughly inspired.

They too seemed admiring of the attitude of a gal who leaves the comfort of home for a backpacking adventure with no set plan.

Performances at Pinacoteca 

Sabado 12 – On to the weekend and Amanda and I ambled over to Pinacoteca, one of the best public art galleries in the city. There, a cool installation of ceramic objects by Laertes Ramos filled the red brick atrium space. Wow, it was beautiful! and I couldn’t help but think what an excellent name Laertes is too 🙂

Bunker - Laertes Ramos

Casamata (Bunker) – Laertes Ramos

The beautiful atrium space at Pinacoteca, Sao Paulo,

Upstairs we found work by Tino Sehgal in the form of two dancers, a singer and an actor who animated the historic collection through roaming performance and reciting the words of the artist, ‘This is Propaganda’. As my interest in performance grows ever stronger this piece of work was a happy discovery.

Voodoo Hopping at Teatro Oficina

That night I went to meet Fernanda at the infamous Teatro Oficina. Tonight was a Voodoo Hop party and I was told to expect a Dionysian fiesta.

Teatro Oficina is uber avant-garde; their performances last several hours, include plenty of nudity, real sex and orgies, defecating on stage, blood, vomit……the whole shebbang! I couldn’t help but feel curious….

A bunch of fellows

A strange ginger Brasilian man I met in the Banhero Feminino – Fellow party-goers including a ‘Gringa’ from Mumbai, India – Projections inside the club.

On entering there was a barefoot policy so I left my shoes in the cloakroom. The interior was catherdral-like: clad with a tall industrial scaffold structure from which bodies writhed, part gymnast/part pole dancers. Behind a vast glass wall was a huge tropical garden. Andy Warhol’s Factory came to mind: communal, free, experimental.

I arrived late so missed the naked Flamenco dancer and other crazy business but played with a ‘bambole’ (hula hoop), watched lots of clothed love-making with a degree of English awkwardness and saw a Condomble infused performance that made me smile.

gsdgsg

Condomble rhythms and men dressed as Wombles wearing hairpieces of Loofers(!) A refreshingly barmy performance at Teatro Oficina.

 

Skateboarders at the Museu Afro Brasil

Domingo 13 – A Manchester friend put me in touch with his pal Lowri Evans. She’s a performance artist living between England and Sao Paulo. We met on Paulista last week and I quickly decided that she was one of the sincerely warmest people I’d met in a long time.

Lowri has been working on a year long performance project about the life and letters of social activist Roza Luxemburg with Sao Paulo based artists. Her Brasilian partner Rodolfo is also that way inclined as a founding member of alternative theatre company Grupo XIX.

Lowri Evans :-)

Lowri Evans 🙂

I bobbed over to the gigante Parque do Ibirapuera and went to the Museu Afro Brasil with Lowri, Rodolfo and another Inglesa, Alison. The museum is brilliant, go if you’re ever in Sao Paulo!

Afterwards, I filmed the resident skateboarders. They totally enhance the Niemeyer designed walk way that leads from the museum to the park.

 

David Bowie Is…..Cool

Tercafeira 15 – A V&A show I missed in London has toured to Sao Paulo: David Bowie Is. I caught it at the Museu Da Imagem e Do Som (Museum of Moving Image & Sound) before it closed on 24th April. As a lover of  fashion, alter egos and gender blending I left the show totally in love with this humble English creature (who turned into a butterfly).

The man sporting some wonderful heeled boots and high waisted trousers. Swoooon!

The man sporting some wonderful heeled boots and high waisted trousers. Swoooon!

Beautiful brilliant Bowie baby!

Beautiful brilliant Bowie baby!….on English TV show, Tops of the Pops.

 

Opening performance of ROZA

Sextafeira 18 – Following a week of rehearsals Lowri’s ROZA ‘espectaculo’ was opening that night. I was really excited to see it having heard snippets from behind the scenes.

This multi-layered multimedia masterpiece began with an intro by the Roza Band before launching into an improvised script, using an innovative stage arrangement, projections, film, theatre, !!passion!! (as was Roza Luxemburg’s character), and more music.

I sat there and like a sponge absorbed it all until full, not understanding all the Portuguese bits but enjoying this creative bubbling brew nevertheless. It was an incredible creation.

ROZA - Lowri Evans, Martha Kiss Perone & Lucia Bronstein. Photos by Marilia Scharlach.

ROZA – Lowri Evans, Martha Kiss Perone & Lucia Bronstein.
Photos by Marilia Scharlach.

After the show Lowri and I jabbered in our relaxed English tongue for a few moments before I met Celso a theatre director from Brasilia, Rita a contemporary dancer from Portgual, Edson drummer of the Roza Band and successful experimental musician along with many more friendly interesting folk.

GRUA (Gentlemen of the Street) Performance

Qunitafeira 17 – I caught a free performance by GRUA at old fashioned shopping centre Galeria Olido. Yet more inspiration. Performance and dance seems to ooze out the bricks of this city!

On this ocassion they combined Contemporary dance with Parkour and Capoeira and this, along with their gentlemanly attire woo-ed me! This is an earlier piece of work by the chaps.

 

Dancing on the Streets

Sextafeira 18 e Sabado 19 – After almost two weeks in Sao Paulo and many conversations and thoughts about favourite city spots I was ready to take to the streets and dance. And so was Adriana, my second generously spirited CS host.

We had lots of fun in the hot Sao Paulo sunshine. Something life affirming happens when passers-by are moved by the moment and dance along with me. Non-verbal communication: ” hello friend!”

Our final spot was Beco do Batman in Vila Madalena. It’s a back street alley covered plastered in graffiti and a dreamy location.

My favourite graffiti all in Beco de Batman.

My favourite graffiti wall down Beco do Batman/ Batman Alley.

 

Rockabilly for Desert 🙂

Early hours, Domingo 20 – It was my last night in Sao Paulo and despite having tired ‘corpos’ we couldn’t resist a bop at rockabilly club The Clock. This was just the ticket.

‘Muito cansado!’ became ‘muito animado!’ as soon as I heard that familiar Little Richard tune ‘Lucille’ booming from behind the entrance door. Something otherworldly came over me and I lept onto the dance floor almost immediately and bopped my socks off.

'BOP' til you DROP!

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