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Viver Brasil seeks new heights, with caution

June 28, 2009 |  1:30 pm

L.A. can be a tough town for dance companies. Just ask Viver Brasil, which has struggled to survive -- and has mostly succeeded -- for the last 12 years. Friday marks the company's seventh consecutive summer at the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood, and with it comes a renewed ambition to take the troupe to a new artistic level.

For the first time, the company is incorporating digital video technology into its performances, projecting abstract imagery as well as supertitle text to make the narrative numbers more accessible to audiences. The company is also mixing more modern dance into its folk Afro-Brazilian choreography in a bid to ratchet up the company's athleticism and physical pyrotechnics.

Viver Brasil is in the midst of launching itself on the national stage -- over the next few months, the company will take its bow in a new partnership with the Hollywood Bowl and also perform in its first significant foreign engagement in Mexico.

But climbing the evolutionary ladder in the dance world can be a difficult maneuver, one that requires flexibility, stamina and the acceptance that you might end up falling flat on your face. "It's not going to be easy," said Linda Yudin, the company's artistic director. "But I still think that the next few years look promising to us, and we have not let the recession stop us."

Read the story in today's Sunday Calendar.

-- David Ng

Photo: Members of Viver Brasil perform "Avanhia." Credit: RGB Photography