Brazilian dance group to perform Saturday in Locust

Stanly County residents will have the opportunity to learn about Brazilian culture this weekend as the NC Brazilian Arts Project will perform various artistic movements, including Samba and Capoeira, behind the Locust City Hall Saturday evening.

The routines, which should begin at 6:30 p.m. and last about an hour, will be a prelude to the children’s movie “Rio,” which is largely set in Brazil. It is part of the city’s Family Movie Nights, which will run through October.

The performance is happening because of a $1,200 Grassroots Arts Program grant the City of Locust applied received.

“It can be used for multicultural artists and so we felt that our Family Movie Nights would be a good opportunity to show a movie that would also highlight that movie’s culture,” Locust Parks and Recreation director Emily Jones said.

A second multicultural event in Locust will take place April 22, when the El Alma de la Luna Dance Academy will perform in conjunction with the showing of Disney’s “Coco,” which celebrates Mexican culture.

“Locust continues to grow and so do populations of Hispanics, South Americans and others,” Jones said. “These cultures are so rich and beautiful; I’m excited for this to be an educational and entertaining performance and hope it is celebrated by all of Locust’s residents.”

These projects are supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and the Stanly County Arts Council.

About NC Brazilian Arts Project 

The organization, which was founded in 2017, works “to increase cultural exchange and community enrichment by emphasizing the social justice and the African and Indigenous roots of Samba and Capoeira,” according to NC BAP’s website.

Samba is the most prevalent dance form in Brazil and is often associated with the Brazilian Carnaval festival, while Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, music and spirituality.

NC BAP, based out of Charlotte and the Triangle area, consists of a student dance group and a professional one, according to Liane She, global education coordinator and Spanish/French instructor at Stanly Community College. She is a member of the student dance group and helped bring the organization to Locust.

They perform each week across the state, including at colleges and universities. NC BAP, which has around 25-30 people between both dance troupes, performed at SCC last year, She said.

Though the two dance groups often perform together, as they did during a recent Night in Rio event in Charlotte, only the professional troupe will be in Locust, She said.

Anyone can join the group, regardless of their knowledge about Brazilian culture or how much prior dance experience they have, She said, noting one of the directors is from Venezuela and a few members are Ukrainian. “Everybody is welcome.”

Since joining the NC BAP a year and a half ago, She said that besides learning about Brazilian arts, she has become part of a “community that is very united.”

NC BAP co-director Adriana Blanco, who will be in Locust Saturday, said in emailed comments she hopes the event will foster in people a desire “to keep experiencing different cultures throughout Brazil and the world, and to maybe find some similarities within their own cultures, so they can find ways to learn and feel connected to those arts.”

“I also want them to enjoy good music and the aesthetics of beautiful dancing, well thought out costumes, and witness as much of an authentic cultural experience as possible,” Blanco added.