A man stands on his head, balanced on a platform held up by his colleagues. Then he starts to spin, faster and faster until he's a twirling blur in the golden stage light. Balé de Rua, a dance celebration of Brazil, is a noisy, upbeat spectacle that will sometimes do something astonishing.
The Balé de Rua company was created in 1992 by three Brazilians, Fernando Narduchi, Marco Antônio Garcia and José Marciel Silva. Between them, they had experience of various street-dance styles, plus classical and contemporary dance. Together, they've directed, choreographed and designed this show; Silva still dances in it.
The scaffolding backdrop suggests an urban setting, with different levels for dancers and percussionists. There are 14 dancers plus Adriana Regina Francisco, who sings with exuberance and in a whole series of colourful dresses. The show uses a mix of live and taped music. Its volume, percussion and energy put it firmly in the tradition of Stomp, Tap Dogs and Gumboots.
The tireless cast are always ready to dive into acrobatics or stomping samba. Balé de Rua draws on a range of styles: capoeira, street dance, plus more abstract dance scenes, with dancers spattered in coloured paint or decorated with flowers.
There's a loose narrative, vaguely explaining that different numbers show the character of religion in Brazil, or the move from slavery to freedom. In the opening number, the dancers pose in white suits and fedoras. They drape themselves in headscarves to celebrate the Virgin Mary, the men swishing skirts without camp or embarrassment.
Balé de Rua stresses high-energy unison dances. Even so, it gives individual dancers their moment in the spotlight. One breaks into a moonwalk; others turn brilliant backflips. The headspin sequence is the most distinctive. Balé de Rua makes a buoyant, very cheerful show.