Brazil has been this year's buzz word when it comes to the arts. Ever on-trend, this summer's Edinburgh festival welcomes Bruno Beltrao, possibly the hottest young choreographer in Brazil right now. At only 26, Betrao has been running his company, Grupo de Rua de Niteroi, for a decade already - though the Brazilian staples of samba, forro and capoeira are not for him; instead, his biggest influence was Michael Jackson.
As a teenager in Niteroi, a small town close to Rio, Beltrao picked up dance steps from pop videos, and as there were no local street dance classes, Beltrao set up his own. The fledgling choreographer led his charges performing flashy hip-hop routines, but soon bored of breakdancing. Studying dance at university in Rio, Beltrao became absorbed by the world of contemporary dance.
He began to deconstruct street dance movements, resulting in a choreography where the twitch of a single muscle becomes a seismic event. Out went the familiar crowd-pleasing battles, and the reaction from the hip-hop community was, he says, "terrible". Luckily, Beltrao was never interested in hanging on to the coat tails of cool. "In Brazil, a lot of choreographers have a colonial relationship with the US," he says. "They wait to see what happens there and say, right, now it's the krump. Then they start krumping. For me, I'm completely comfortable with the idea that I don't have any respect [within the hip-hop community]."
But he's been earning plenty of respect elsewhere. Having toured Europe and the Americas, the Edinburgh shows will be a UK debut for Grupo de Rua de Niteroi, and the first time they've performed all of Beltrao's works together. For the latest, H2, the choreographer travelled across Brazil to find the country's best street dancers, and their skills are jaw-dropping. This is the real shape of Brazilian dance, and not a samba in sight.
Grupo de Rua de Niteroi perform 'Telesquat' at The Hub, 14-19 August, and 'H2' at The Edinburgh Playhouse 22-23 August (0131-473 2003; www.eif.co.uk)Reuse content