Capoeira meets classical music

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Max began this project back in 2007, bringing together his own experience training in the Brazilian martial dance capoeira with classical music. At a performance with the Cambridge University Chamber Orchestra in King’s Chapel, Cambridge, he performed along with contemporary and capoeira dancers in choreographed pieces, linking common themes of oppression and suffering in capoeira in Haydn’s ‘La Passione’ Symphony, and the orchestral arrangement of Shostakovich’s 8th Quartet. He later brought the project to Nick Collon, principal conductor of the Aurora Orchestra, and a follow-up at LSO St Luke’s was planned. The videos below are from this performance, which led to further follow-up collaborations between leading capoeira Mestre Ponciano, members of his group Cordao de Ourou, and the Aurora Orchestra. Several concerts for the City of London Festival were followed by Aurora’s BBC Proms debut in August 2010.

The performances below were conceived and choreographed by Max Baillie (who plays principal viola in the group).

There were two parts to the collaboration:

Part 1, Capoeira Ballet set to ‘Alceste’ by French Baroque composer Jean-Baptiste Lully:

The piece is a series of short sketches set to this orchestral suite, bringing out the grace, virtuosity and humor in the capoeira dance style.

Part 2 is a darker piece closer to contemporary dance, performed to the music of James MacMillan: Exorcism of RioSimpul. Retelling the brutal helicopter attack by the El Salvadorian army on a village in the 1980s, the music is reflected in evocative ritualistic dance based on the capoeira roda (circle).