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The visceral power of DanceBrazil owes much to the razor-sharp martial arts movements of Capoeira, a choreographic tour-de-force at once graceful and menacing, and to the throbbing Afro-Brazilian music performed live by drummers and instrumentalists.

On a more profound level, the brilliant dances that artistic director Jelon Vieira has set on his gifted troupe offer entrée into the cultural legacy of the Brazilian state of Bahia, so complex and intriguing in its unique sense of place. The performance traditions in Bahia mirror many of the elements of African-American dance and music.

DanceBrazil will perform 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 1, at the Williams Center for the Arts. Tickets cost $20 and may be purchased by calling the box office at 610-330-5009.

DanceBrazil music director Tote Gira, along with four musicians and several dancers from the ensemble, will present a free public workshop on Afro-Brazilian music 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 31, at the Williams Center. The dancers will demonstrate foot rhythms and dance steps. Funding for the workshop has been provided by the Dexter and Dorothy Baker Foundation.

“There can’t be much anywhere to match the strength, flexibility, speed and idiomatic allure of the dozen dancers and musicians of DanceBrazil,” states The Washington Post.

“How does one describe an emotional experience that bypasses the head and the heart and goes right to the feet and the hipshow does one describe the metaphorical placing of a hand on the rapid pulse of Africa and Brazil?” asks The Sacramento Bee.

Evolving from grassroots workshops at the Clark Center for the Arts in New York City, DanceBrazil was founded by Jelon Vieira in 1977. Alvin Ailey joined the board of directors in 1980 and helped focus the group’s objectives, emphasizing the company’s ability to speak to a broad North American community. Soon after, the Capoeira Foundation was founded to undertake the long-range goal of spreading an Afro-Brazilian cultural message through its educational, presenting, and producing activities. Within a few years DanceBrazil premiered at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall.

In 1985, DanceBrazil premiered “Orfeo Negro” at the Riverside Dance Festival to critical and popular acclaim; the piece established the company’s movement aesthetic, one fusing traditional Afro-Brazilian and modern dance. PBS’s “Alive from Off Center” commissioned and premiered nationwide “Aurora” by Vieira and Nem Brito in 1988. Since then the company has continued to tour throughout the U.S. and internationally.

This tour of DanceBrazil is made possible by a grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program.

The nationally recognized Performance Series at Lafayette attracts more than 10,000 people each season. It has been cited for performing excellence by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Chamber Music America, Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund, Pennsylvania Arts and Humanities Councils, and Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

The 2004-05 Performance Series at Lafayette is supported in part by gifts from Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts; by the F.M. Kirby Foundation; by provisions of the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence Program, J. Mahlon and Grace Buck Foundation, and Croasdale Fund; and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

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