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*Cria,* March 31, 2022

I saw the Brazlian dance group Suave doing *Cria* at BAM on March 31, 2022. I'll use the blurb on the BAM website to explain:


"*Cria* is the embodiment of youth. Taking the movement vocabularies of dancinha, a hot mix of funk, samba, and breakdance, and passinho, the life force of favela culture, choreographer Alice Ripoll relocates the wild exuberance of adolescence through dance.


"This spring, Ripoll and the astonishingly talented, 10-member group Suave—an all-Black company of cis and trans performers, each bringing their own individual narrative, dance history, and physicality to the stage—make their thrilling US debut."


The feeling was queer positive, body positive, female empowered, gender fluid, Black is Beautiful, and deeply humanist. It's not often that a performance gives such a powerful statement about diversity and inclusion, simply through its being and not through its preaching. All of this was truly rooted in the dancing - - the choreography was beautifully mapped out, full of expression and variety, and the dancers were amazingly skilled.


Let me apologize right off for my Old World use of the binary words "he" and "she," "man" and "woman." I imagine that some of the dancers would prefer different words but it's hard to know without being told.


The performance started with loud music and a thumping beat - - one, two, or three dancers moving from one side of the stage to the other. I imagine they were often doing something that they specialize in. Sometimes two dancers were doing something unrelated, sometimes they were dancing in unison. One particularly exciting moment had two women with their backs to the audience, bent at the knee, hands on knees, shaking their booties real fast. Do we still call this twerking? One of them (who had a couple of spectacular hair solos later in the show) was wearing orange shorts with tight little ruffles and those ruffles were WORKING, girl.


I was curious to see that the BAM website said the performance was recommended for audiences ages 14 and above. I thought maybe this meant it was going to include nudity...? But no, I think the warning was for a sequence that was like a fully clothed, abstract simulated orgy, every imaginable position (and a few that I couldn't imagine and might require a chiropractor), every possible combination of bodies.


The central half hour had no music. It started with a skinny male dancer doing a long solo, interacting with the audience a bit but more often peering at us inquisitively. There was some talking: bits in English, some in Portuguese, but mostly in an abstract language.


The most exciting dancer was the tallest member of the ensemble, someone I'll assume is a transwoman. She did two sequences that I'll call "hair solos," throwing her hair around with great force and skill. You can see a little glimpse of this in the video, around 3:15. The clip doesn't really do justice to what it was like in person - - it was hypnotic. For the record, she was also the dancer with the orange ruffled shorts.


She also led the ensemble in some singing near the end of the show, with all ten dancers standing in a cluster. This built up to a peak and some pre-recorded music came on and the whole ensemble started dancing together. This was the first time that the whole ensemble was dancing together to music, which had quite an impact 40 minutes into the show.


The music faded and stopped and we witnessed a ritual or a death or a birth or some melding of those things. The piece ended in silence, with three dancers offstage, five in a pile in the corner, and two doing a tender and impressive pseudo acrobatic routine. For a show that started so high energy, it was a fascinating choice to end it so quietly.



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