Street Dancers Seek to Close the Gap in Rio

by on August 26, 2015

   As preparations come together for the upcoming Olympics in Rio, many parts of Brazil yearn to see some of the facelift the chosen city is receiving. Those who are poor or marginalized seem to be forgotten as millions of dollars are poured into new infrastructure and stadiums to prepare for the games.In particular, the Afro-Brazilian community is at a great socio-economic and racial disadvantage that has been in place for many years. One group, Balé de Rua, seeks to close this gap between rich and poor. Through danças da rua (street dances)— the fusion of hip-hop, samba and the Afro-Brazilian martial art of capoeira— the company performs in 13 countries to raise awareness of the divide.

   Within a country that has such diverse roots as Brazil, racial tension continues to pervade many facets of lives for Brazilians. Dance is not immune to such treatment. Originally the group started as a sort of rebellion to the traditional forms of dance: classically trained ballet and samba. On the contrary, those who have been classically trained had to essentially “unlearn their training.” The idea is to connect the dancers with the audience, rather than put on a performance to be watched. It’s about participation, and the hopes to begin a dialogue about race and prejudice.