Decidedly Jazz Danceworks teams up with the exciting playfulness of Brazilian stomp in ‘Ziriguidum’

Monday 13th, April 2015 / 13:53
By B. Simm

DJD-Apr-webCALGARY — Ziriguidum (zee – ree – ghee – doom) is a Brazilian Portuguese word that “means the thing that makes you, you,” says Decidedly Jazz Danceworks’ (DJD) artistic director, Kim Cooper.

Very existential. It’s the being that makes us “be” who we are.

“Yes,” replies Cooper. “But it’s the ‘be’ that certain people have that makes them extra special. For example, you might say, ‘Check out her ziriguidum.’ Or you might say, ‘That guy has no ziriguidum.’”

It’s kind of like having good mojo or not.

“That’s a good comparison.”

While teaching a workshop in Montana in 2002, Cooper met another dancer, Valeria Pinherio, from northeast Brazil who runs a company there. Cooper kept in touch, and spent the last couple of her summers in South America doing research. As a result DJD welcomes the arrival of Pinherio’s intriguing dance company, Cia.Vatá.

“When she (Pinherio) was 17 her dad brought her back a ‘how to tap dance’ record from New York.” From that record Pinherio developed her own style and, now in her 50s, is a renowned teacher and dancer performing at festivals with her company all over the world.

“It’s so interesting because her tap is so different than North American swing tap, which has a different feeling and connection to jazz music and often ‘swings’,” notes Cooper. “Brazilian music doesn’t swing at all. It’s very downbeat heavy, into the floor, and reflects the rhythms of Brazil. The folk dances from the north are quite percussive and ‘stompy.’”

While the two companies find common ground in jazz that’s rooted in folk music, the contrast between DJD and Cia.Vatá is very distinct. “They sing, dance and play instruments and there’s some clown references…a mix of clowning, singing and dancing, contemporary, folk and tap.” Cooper says Pinherio talks about “the playful body” in her work.

DJD and Cia.Vatá share the stage at Theatre Junction from April 24 to May 2.

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