The Walker Art Center presents Brazilian choreographer Bruno Beltrão/Grupo de Rua performing H3 Thursday–Saturday February 11–13, at 8 pm, in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater. Like millions of other teenagers in the early 1980s, Brazilian choreographer Bruno Beltrão saw Michael Jackson as a hero. Unlike most of his peers, he had the precocity to thoroughly school himself in hip-hop moves and cofound a street-dance ensemble, originally called Grupo de Rua de Niteroi, by the age of 16. From there, he rapidly developed into a dance revolutionary. In 2001, the 22-year-old left hip-hop competitions and festivals behind and debuted From popping to pop or vice-versa—a duet in which he fused the freestyle energy of hip-hop with the dynamism and rigor of contemporary dance. While the piece earned the ire of some of his contemporaries, it also made him an international sensation, displaying a vision that showed hip-hop dance transcending its street origins.
The titles of Beltrão’s pieces since then have grown progressively simpler: Me and My Choreographer in 63, Too legit to quit, and Telesquat in the early 2000s, H2 in 2005, and now, for his company’s first U.S. tour, H3. It’s as if he’s been paring away genre clichés to reveal some new and unfamiliar essence of movement. Breaking down krumping, popping, collisions, floor spins, and headstands into building-block elements, Beltrão creates dances that are stunningly accomplished, with the conceptual and compositional orientation of a contemporary dance master. As one London critic noted, he is a hip-hop counterpart to postmodern choreographer Trisha Brown.
H3 is Beltrão’s most complex and compelling work to date. Hailing from the street-dance scene in cities throughout Brazil, the group’s nine dancers unleash astonishing solos, duets, and ensemble passages on a stage wired to transform the sounds of their shoes into samples for a pulsing electronic soundtrack. Moving beyond the lineage of street dance, H3 channels the exhilaration, machismo, and showmanship of hip-hop into rich, allusive, and even meditative movements. Beltrão—with H3 in particular—has engineered a great evolutionary leap in the form.
Bruno Beltrão was born in Niterói, near Rio de Janeiro, in 1979. In 1993 he began his first street dance lessons, in Niterói, with the Israeli teacher Yoram Szabo. From 1995 on, he engaged in research to get thoroughly acquainted with this dance style, still quite unheard of in Brazil. In 1996 he founded Grupo de Rua de Niterói with his partner Rodrigo Bernardi. During its first two years, the company performed at competitive dance festivals and on television. In 2000, GRN participated in the international tour of “Metrópole” with the Midnight Circus, under the French director Pierrot Bidon.
Grupo de Rua has toured internationally, at Rencotres Choreographiques de Seine-Saint-Denis, MC93 in Paris, and the festival Danças na Cidade in Lisbon, was invited by French choreographer Jérôme Bel to perform at Klapstuk Festival in Belgium. In addition, the company has performed at Springdance (Utrecht), Ile Danse (Ajaccio), Tanz im August (Berlin) Internationales Tanzfest (Hanover), Yokohama Dance Summit (Japan), Hebbel Theater (Berlin) and Opkomst (Utrecht), La Ferme du Buisson (Noisiel), Kunsten Festival des Arts (Brussels), Ruhrfestspiele (Recklinghausen), Tanztage (Bern), CSS Theater (Udine), Rencontres de la Villete (Paris), Kampnagel (Hamburg), and at the Festival Breakin’Walls (Amsterdam).
Besides his creative work as a choreographer, Beltrão works in many different spheres to promote street dance, whether working as a curator or taking part in social programs. He has also written the essay Breakdance: Fissão e a Reação em cadeia for the book Lições de Dança 2, published by Beltrão’s university, UniverCidade. In 2002, Beltrão was selected Upcoming Choreographer of the Year and the company is considered “one of the most creative of the new generation” by O Globo (second largest Brazilian newspaper). Battetanz Yearbook selected him Upcoming Choreographer of the Year in 2005.
Tickets to Bruno Beltrão/Grupo de Rua de Niteroi are: Thursday, $18 ($15 Walker members); Friday–Saturday, $25 ($21) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600. The McGuire Theater’s Balcony Bar will be open at 7 pm and after the performances.