Note from BW of Brazil: The presentation of the black aesthetic and stories told from the perspective of the Afro-Brazilian are sorely lacking throughout all forms of Brazilian media. But in recent years, a number of theater groups have risen to fill this void created by the mass media. Along with Banda de Teatro Olodum, CIA Capulanas and the Coletivo Negro, Circuito Musical Palmares is one of the many black-oriented theater groups performing throughout the country and showing the side of Brazil that the mainstream continues to ignore. Learn a little about this group that is gaining a reputation in the Brazilian northeast while sharing the importance of Afro-Brazilian History. Be sure to check the video at the end of the write up. It’s in Portuguese, but still check out the visual to get an idea of the group’s work.
Circuito Musical Palmares highlights the history of Afro-descendant culture in Brazil
by Augusto do Nascimento
A mixture of artistic languages to narrate and reflect the history of black culture in Brazil. With this proposal, the non-governmental organization Ponto de Equilíbrio (OPEQ, meaning “break even point”), from Teresina (capital of Piauí), has been touring cities of Piauí and Maranhão with the show Circuit Musical Palmares, whose closing show will take place in São Luís (capital of Maranhão) on Thursday (29), with two presentations open to the public: 9am, at the Unidade Integrada Maria José de Aragão (Cidade Operária); and 8pm in the Praça Nauro Machado (Praia Grande).
According to the manager of Opeq and general manager of the show, Luís Carlos Vale, the Circuito Musical Palmares consists of a variety of artistic expressions, among them music and theater, but having dance as its flagship. He revealed that the assembly brings together 20 people in the cast, plus more than a dozen involved in the production and technical staff. The musical project was awarded in 2010 by the Fundação Cultural Palmares (Palmares Cultural Foundation), an organization under the Ministry of Culture (MinC) for the promotion and preservation of Afro-Brazilian art and culture, and last year the initiative of the circulation of the show was selected by the Prêmio de Teatro Myriam Muniz (Myriam Muniz Theatre Prize), of the Fundação Nacional de Artes (Funarte or National Arts Foundation), an organ referring also connected to the MinC. With São Luís, the musical reached seven municipalities of the two states during the month of May.
On stage, dancers, singers, actors and musicians tell the history of blacks in Brazil, from the arrival of the first slave ships with the enslaved peoples of Africa, to the present day, always with the focus on the appreciation of black culture and raising the question racism in the formation of the country. With music and choreography created especially for the presentation, the assembly was inspired from images and texts from the book Mitologia dos Orixás (Mythology of the Orishas), by sociologist Reginald Prandi, considered the most comprehensive collection of myths of the religion of the orixás (deities) ever gathered around the world, with more than 300 mythological stories about the pantheon of African deities.
Luís Carlos Vale stressed the connection of the Circuito Musical Palmares with remaining quilombo (maroon societies) communities in Brazil. Besides the title of the assembly, based on the best-known core of resistance of enslaved blacks during the colonial period, the artistic director, choreographer and actor of the spectacular, Valdemar Santos, is originally from the quilombola tradition in Piauí. The musical was also presented in the Mimbó community, causing strong repercussions among its members.
“We have a debt to blacks, who have always had a very strong force in Brazil. We know that prejudice exists, but I believe that blacks have been breaking down barriers,” said Luís Carlos Vale, lamenting the recurrence of racist acts these days. However, he considered that the Movimento Negro (black movement) has been strengthened and new generations are more open to co-existing with cultural diversity and minorities, as is also the case of gay militancy.
For the general director of Circuito Musical Palmares, despite the difficulty of putting on the montage, especially due to juggling schedules of rehearsals and performances of the large team, the pioneering initiative enables audiences of northeastern states to have closer contact with this type of spectacular, most common in the axis around the metropolises of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Founded in 1999 in Teresina, the Ponto de Equilíbrio (Opeq) organization is a legal entity of private law, aiming to promote social development through various areas of action: art, culture, and education, among others. Luís Carlos Vale clarified that apart from measures for the appreciation of black culture, the entity carries out projects with other minority groups such as women and HIV positive individuals. With the target audience of children and adolescents, the Opeq conducts cultural entrepreneurship activities, while maintaining the Dança Eficiente (Efficient Dance) project for persons with disabilities.
Circuito Musical Palmares
Source: O Imparcial