Balé Folclórico de Bahia at Zellerbach Hall

Harry S. Pariser By

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A thrilling berimbau solo by Fábio Santos followed, eliciting loud clucks of appreciation from some Brazilians in the audience. The berimbau, an instrument brought to jazz by the late Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, usually accompanies rounds of caopoeira, in which function it has supplanted the traditional atabaque which was used. An adaptation of the African gourd bow, it comes in three varieties; its name derives from the Portuguese, whose Jew's harp bears the same name.

It was then the time for the drums. Male dancers brought three giant and six smaller Brazilian surdos—painted green, orange and yellow—to the stage Female dancers, bare breasts bouncing with a life of their own as their large flowery necklaces flapped up, took the stage and danced with wild abandon. Each shone during their turn in the spotlight.

The dancers went to town as some headed out into the audience, invoking theatergoers to get up out of their seats and dance. One woman was lured to the stage by a male dancer, threw down some good natured moves, and then exited. A mother danced with her small child. It all ended in a tightly closed circle with performers' arms upraised. A final samba-reggae number brought down the house before the curtain closed to bring nearly two hours of energetic performance to a close.


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