Companhia Urbana de Dança, a troupe from the slums of Rio de Janeiro, infuses break dancing with Brazilian influences and contemporary dance in an energetic repertory choreographed by artistic director Sonia Destri Lie.
The company will perform two pieces Sunday at the On.StageBlack Box Theater at Miami-Dade County Auditorium, presented by FUNDArte.
Destri, who has degrees in psychology and dance, was exposed to hip-hop and b-boy culture while working in Europe. She discussed her vision for Companhia Urbana de Dança in a recent conversation:
Q: Your dancers are described as not just moving to a hip-hop beat but as living testimonials of who they are and where they come from. How do you foster that?
A: I always want young dancers with desire in their eyes. … then you can see truth and emotion on stage. It is what I think is missing around the scene of hip-hop. Now you get so many kids doing so many crazy things — turns, jumps, power moves — that you never thought could come from a body, but so what? When and where are you going to catch my heart?
Q: Many of the dancers come from favelas [slums], and still live there. How did you go about finding members of the company?
A: It is a long story how I got started in the 1980s. But now they just come to me. They knock on my door or they get to know one of the dancers and ask to come. We do not work with auditions. I’d rather have them because they want to be here.
And also I wanted to give myself a chance to understand kids that I never had been in touch with before. I knew I could do something. I knew I was not looking for this traditional circus of hip-hop.
Q: What motivates you to create the work you do now?
A: I [intend] to deal all the time with the recognition of the civilizing values of African origin, encouraging reflection on them in Brazilian culture in all its diversity. The performances of the company seek to translate these identities and diversities with a carioca [Rio de Janeiro], Brazilian and African accent, but at the same time be translatable to the world, placing it more in [the context] of contemporary dance.
Q: What are your expectations of performing in Miami, a port city with a vibrant history of diasporas from many countries?
A: I have the feeling we are going to be performing at home. I think we will be looking to ours peers and equals, as friends and family.