For many decades, the notion of dance in Brazil was relegated to two genres, classical ballet and samba, leaving modern dance an outsider to mainstream culture. In 1968, when the Sao Paolo Dance Company (SPCD) was founded, it was unique in its dedication to diverse dance styles. By the mid-1970s the troupe was joined by other companies, such as Grupo Corpo, which presented contemporary dance from Brazil and further afield.

Next week, the Sao Paolo Dance Company will make its debut performance in Israel with a three-part program at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center. The evening, entitled In the Middle, will consist of Bachiana No. 1 by Brazilian choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras; In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated by William Forsythe; and Gnawa by Nacho Duato.

“We aim to show the variety of the repertoire of SPCD and the dynamics of Brazilian dancers,” explains artistic director Ines Bogea, who took over the reins in 2010 and has spent the past four years pushing the company into the international limelight.

Bogea was born and raised in Brazil.

In 1989, she joined the cast of Grupo Corpo. She spent the following 12 years dancing with the company before breaking away. Following her departure, she began working as a dance critic for a local newspaper. In 2007, she completed her PhD in art.

She has written several children’s books and is on staff at the University of Sao Paolo. For Bogea, the visit to Israel closes a circle. She performed in Israel with Grupo Corpo in 1997 and 1999.

“I have great memories of the enthusiasm of the audience in the performances,” she recalls.

In Bogea’s eyes, the upcoming program represents the range and abilities of the company.

“In Bachiana No. 1, Pederneiras was inspired by the Bachianas Brasileiras No. 1 by Heitor Villa-Lobos. He drew movements from classical dance and incorporated new angles, dynamics and speed, especially in the movement of the feet. For him, the piece reveals the romance and passion in human relations,” she says.

The second piece, by Forsythe, was created in 1987.

“This work marks the history of dance,” explains Bogea. “The transformation of the language of classical dance and the continuation of research initiated by Balanchine, expanding the possibilities of movement in space. In this choreography, Forsythe uses the traditional way of composing a theme with its variations. This theme develops, modifies and transforms the body of each one, quick and bold variations that combine movements of solos, duos and ensemble.”

The final and newest of the pieces, Gnawa, was inspired by the colors, smells and rhythms of the Spanish countryside. The name Gnawa refers to a mystical Islamic tribe.

“In Gnawa, the four natural elements are present, water, earth, air and fire, marking the connection between man and the universe. In the steps of this dance, one sees the classic vocabulary plus Martha Graham’s technique. The strength of the movement comes from the core of the body, the basin, and reverberates through the trunk, the arms, legs and head,” says Bogea.

While each piece stands on its own, the combination of the three creates a strong bigger picture.

“Side by side, the choreographies reveal distinct pathways of classical dance in contemporary days. It starts with the classical steps and moves almost to extreme stillness. The works take the bodies to their limits. Each dance reveals the meeting of bodies and emotions, and it reverberates inside us,” says Bogea.

Sao Paolo Dance Company will perform at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center on May 12, 13, 14 and 15. For more information, visit www.hohherzliya.co.il.

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