Quasar Dance Company

This talented youngster turned 27 in 2015. Born in Goiânia, the capital of the state of Goiás, Brazil, it developed its own accent, delicately inspired in the various arts and their antitheses, thus creating a visual and communication world that is diagrammed in frames and lights. Not linear. Not analog. It stood out worldwide for its ability to discuss the very human being, taking it as its main source of inspiration. Owing to its ability to communicate with various audiences, it resonated in distinct territories. It won stages by dancing ontological subjects that absorb man in his most intimate aspirations. It sprinkled this construction with pinches of subtle and quixotically naïve humor, which fought unimaginable battles with the world of abstraction and poetry.

The above description could have been that of a person, but it is not. This is about a body that moves homogenously, albeit impelled by the individual desires of its indisputably heterogeneous parts. This is the description of a group that since its early days has gathered restless souls in their eagerness to discuss their relations with the world. This was the way Quasar came into being in the Center-West of Brazil. The name could not be any different: bodies that surround a hyper-dense center, merging into the most powerful source of energy ever found and which generates a beam of light traveling to us, going back to the very birth of the universe. Altogether there are 25 performances created and irradiated in diverse geographic directions. Every year, the group puts on an average of 40 (forty) public performances of a work that has become a school, a reference to more and new creation artists.

Open ways

If for some in the beginning was the Word, for Quasar in the beginning was the light. That might be the reason why Quasar’s first performance spoke through its lighting. ASAS (WINGS) (1988) was Henrique Rodovalho’s first creation as the head of the Company of which he would eventually become the resident choreographer. That was the kickoff for a spark in Henrique to make him an investigator of possibilities, and a stage director that at first did not exactly bring dance as a starting point, but rather a mixture of knowledge and observations about the world, the body, video, photography, and music. He was a spirit that connected to each dancer’s, or each actor’s vocations, who from that point on united not for their technical ability, but rather affective availability. It was thus that the Company began its course of creations that avoided conventional modern ballet and presented to the audience in Goiânia something new, unusual, challenging and vibrant.

Created by Henrique Rodovalho and transmuted by Quasar’s cast through their personal experiences, the following 9 (nine) performances changed dance into a space for artistic experimentation and discoveries of new possibilities. Studies (Studies) (1989) and Sob o mesmo azul (Under the same blue) (1990) already brought the language of video interacting with bodies, performance, music performed on stage by non-dancers, silence as possible sonority for dance, a stage wide open to the audience. Improvisation and acting ability were already a key part for that cast, obviously full of contrasts. Itamar Assunção’s music completed the desired absurd. Não Perturbe (Do Not Disturb) (1992) starts the Company’s course of short and humorous, as well as a relationship with soundtracks that avoided common sense, such as the nearly theatrical music by Os Mulheres Negras and Tom Waits. The experience paid off and made Quasar be liked by audiences that until then did not attend dance performances. Senhores de Poucas Visões (Gentlemen of Few Visions) (1993) and Quatros (Fours) (1994) emerged for exiguous spaces and were performed in alternative venues such as Zabriskie coffee-theater, which launched a new entertainment niche in the capital. Quasar once again accepted a challenge.

In the sixth year, Rodovalho gathered all his experimentation, summarizing contents and information that until then revolved around an overheated core, and created a new long-duration work, choreographed and lit under his direction, conceived for the Italian stage of major proportions and designed with the partnership of other creation artists, such as set designer Shell Junior. With music by Arnaldo Antunes, minimalist costumes, bold moves, Versus (1994) had an immediate effect, gaining recognition of the public and the critics, first internationally – mainly in Germany – and later throughout Brazil. That was the work that would boost the Company’s career and would cause it to become a national asset.

Quasar’s following creation had such a Brazilian accent and such notorious quality that it was considered one of the main dance performances in 1997 throughout Brazil. Of the 10 statuettes of the Mambembe Prize, awarded by the National Art Foundation – Ministry of Culture, Registro (Record) (1997) was the recipient of five of them. The human need to record their moments was the subject of that work, which anticipated a time of self-portraits and exacerbated displays the self-image. But Registro also spoke of love and Rodovalho then began to explore the most intimate and feverish human feelings. With that, he also started to sketch the profile of his artistic language and his way of communicating with the public.

In addition to audiences, Registro (Record) enabled Quasar to conquer new private and public investments. Owing to a renewed management structure, 1998 was decisive for Rodovalho’s investigation process also changed itself. This is how Divíduo (Dividual) (1998) was conceived. This is the performance that the choreographer himself highlights as a milestone in the building of the Company’s own language. The work spoke of lonely human beings, of a contemporary world of beings and divisible things. The motion that followed the theme fragmented the body into organic and independent parts. The magnificent scenery showed the concrete of the habitat of urban beings. Reality was wide open on stage. The knocking down of the fourth wall brought on to the stage a pizza delivery guy and took the dancer out of the theater. Reality also made the cast dance as they ate their slice of the lonely order. The unique soundtrack, by musician Hendrik Lorenzen – a partner who also became perennial – was conceived with urban sounds. The audience contributed testimonials about loneliness, collected and edited to go on stage at the optimum time of the choreography. This performance was a collection of ideas that were the undoubted evidence that Henrique continued breaking paradigms.

The Company’s international career was established with the performance that followed. Coreografia para Ouvir (Choreography for Listening) (1999) took Brazilian popular culture to the stage. It was inspired in a TV show called Sons da Rua (Street Sounds). The audio of these video clips turned into the soundtrack. The performance presented unusual sonority, recited and spoken by ordinary people on the streets of Northeast Brazil, accompanied by movements that were based on the duration, the beats and the length of each of these street sounds.

Time and old age were the subject of the next performance. Empresta-me Teus Olhos (Lend Me Your Eyes) (2001) was divided into two parts. Its creation entailed an immersion work that had never before been experienced by the cast and the production team. The dancers were taken to the streets in unusual and moving situations, while residents of a nursing home were filmed and listened for the making of videos and sounds that were later changed into sets and soundtrack. The result moved audiences. Next came O+ (2004), which discussed dance itself. Through this work Rodovalho caused and experienced new creative processes. For the first time, Quasar invited the audience to go on stage and participate in the performance. Thus, in a moment of rupture, or rediscovery, Rodovalho entered a completely distinct work and conceived a piece that would become unanimity.

Só tinha de ser com você (It had to be with you) (2005) was pure poetry and abstraction. Enticed by songs sung by Elis Regina and Tom Jobim, the movements were almost mathematical. It was intended that the conjunction of two distinct arts – dance and music – could be read by the viewer’s unconsciousness through their affective memory, rather than a pasteurized and obvious interpretation. Once again, Quasar conquered the public and the critics. Once again, Quasar launched itself into international experiences, dancing on the European, Asian and American Continents. Once again made the pages of the national press, with what was considered one of the best contemporary dance performances in Brazil in 2005. The Bravo! Magazine and a ranking of O Estado de S.P. newspaper headed this reaction. Só tinha de ser com você is still in the Company’s repertoire of performances and because of this very fact it became one of the pieces that is performed the most often, as is the case Versus, Coreografia para Ouvir and two others that would follow.

In the twentieth anniversary of Quasar Dance Company, Rodovalho took a birthday party on to the stage. Por instantes de felicidade (2007) (For moments of happiness) brought back a blend of lightness and colors that was part of Quasar’s initial works. After the celebrations, Brill lived a personal turn. The Company’s work that followed, which would also be one of the flagships of their repertoire, reflected this new moment. Céu na Boca (2009) (Mouthing Heaven) brought back abstraction once again. The piece’s repercussion was mainly because of its rich and unusual movement. International audiences gave way to images and intense corporeality. Shades of gray, bathed in white and green lights, and the wealth of the main theme on which Rodovalho feeds: human existence and emotion.

As the movements of a Quasar are always circular, the Company’s performances are also created in full recurrence. No Singular (2012) (Singular) is a piece which once again takes up the start of the Company’s path, overlapping scenes that do not make up a linear script, but rather short and quick pictures. This piece’s theme touches the speed at which virtual human relationships occur. Once again, Henrique innovates by not only inviting the public to attend the show on stage, but also by airing a video on the internet so that this same audience is able to rehearse the choreography at home, before going to see the performance in the theater.

Involved in the speed of communication relations, the restless creator himself does not think linearly. In 2013, the year Quasar 25th anniversary, Henrique finds himself grappling with a project that proposes a dialog between dance and cinema. Por 7 vezes (7 times) is a performance that was conceived to be a film. Once again, abstraction makes the stage, and dance moves towards a biological organism. The body parts are divided into seven themes: heart, guts, legs, arms, eyes, mouth, and sex. Desire is the tenuous guiding thread that connects the parts, and the result, beyond the performance, continues to disturb its creator, who leaves a question hanging in the air: Will this piece only be finished when it makes the big screen?

Despite the speed with which Rodovalho produced his work in the last 15 years, in the following year the choreographer composes Sobre isto meu corpo não cansa (2014) (My body doesn’t tire from this). The Company’s most recent piece goes back to speak of love once again. This performance depicts light, comic and romantic love, to the sound of very peculiar songs, interpreted only by women.

It must be kept in mind that the creation pathway of Quasar Dance Company’s choreographer is intertwined with the production and management by director Vera Bicalho, who earlier also joined the Company’s cast. For her performance behind the scenes, the eccentric young girl, born 27 years ago in Brazil’s Central Plateau, became increasingly more engaged in the demands for more and new dance professionals, for more and new spaces and creative possibilities, for more and new public and audiences. This is the very reason why Quasar’s pathway is also mingled with the maturing of contemporary dance in the State of Goiás. Such projects as the Quasar Space, the Research Center of the Quasar Space, Quasar’s School of Contemporary Dance and Quasar Young, all existed to continue the process of fertilization of this soil, which continues to bear fruit after over two decades, and today is a promising setting for new projects.

 As can be seen from this lifeline, Quasar’s unique language remains in constant motion, as does its creative core, in ongoing expansion. Born of the confluence of the most unlikely features, including the distance from the academic world and the Company’s not being located in the country’s major cultural centers, its recognition is notorious, and even more intense is its ability to communicate with the public Its maturity and standard of excellence has produced works with scenic quality required to become a reference not only in Brazil, but all over the world. This is how Quasar Dance Company builds a rich intangible heritage which belongs to all mankind and that precisely reflects what this man is in their habitat. It is a reflection that does not always taps into the logic of effective understanding, but rather into the channel that best connects man to his nature: emotion. Formats will always vary, but the human being is still the guiding thread of this restlessness.