In "Vulcão," an evening of dance by Contempo Physical Dance at the Cowles Center, choreographer Marciano Silva dos Santos and composer Divan Gattamorta displayed the sparks that fly when two artists nurture dynamic collaboration over many years.
The two pieces that were shown, including the first part of "Balacobaco" from 2017, and "Vulcão" from 2015, were driven by Gattamorta's spellbinding music, full of Afro-Brazilian rhythms, dramatic tension and an assortment of unconventional sounds. The music drove the movement and also the loose narrative in both works, propelling the storytelling forward as the dancers responded to it.
Starting the show out with "Balacobaco," the dancers evoked the revelry and high spirit of the Brazilian carnival. Donned in brightly colored costumes, they brought a joy to the stage as they skipped, marched, shook their hips and flapped their elbows like wings in an easy, playful romp.
On opening night, the audience thought the end of the first section was the end of the piece, clapping after the dancers found their way to the floor in a lounging position. As the applause died down, the dancers coyly waved and shifted position, bobbing their heads and tapping their feet to the music in a seated dance to the multiple singing voices heard in the music.
The mood of "Balacobaco" shifted several times, from a sensuous second section to a darkly lit industrial scene, complete with the sounds of cars and the dancers moving like they were parts of a machine.
Ultimately, the piece showcased a rich sense of atmosphere.
"Vulcão,"meanwhile, took its time to build up the smoldering energy.
To the sounds of hot bubbling liquid, the dancers, who began by laying on the ground in jerking fits, slowly made their way to standing.
There was a deliberateness in the piece, a wiry quality that allowed the dramatic arc to crescendo, the dynamics between composer and choreographer effortlessly engaging and surprising.
The piece featured a number of short solos, allowing each of the seven members of the company to show off their individuality, as well as their unique gifts. From leaping somersaults to gravity-defying hip-hop moves, it was fun to see what each dancer brought to the piece.
Later on, the individual dancers melded into more of a group. Silva dos Santos employed lines and formations as the movers assembled and reassembled around the stage. Their synchronicity added to the accumulation of vitality that peaked in a satisfying final moment.
Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis arts writer.