Viver Brasil performs in Lowndes schools

Published 4:12 pm Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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Viver Brasil Dance Company brought Afro-Brazilian dance, music, and culture to Lowndes County Schools Tuesday and Wednesday, performing  “We Rise, We Samba” for students at Fort Deposit Elementary, Lowndes Middle School, Jackson-Steele Elementary, Hayneville Middle School, and Central High School in Hayneville as part of the groups Alabama Tour 2023.

Lowndes County Schools librarian and after school tutor Ronda Daniel coordinated the company’s school visits and the performances help improve students’ learning outcomes.

“The program introduces Afro-Brazilian dance and music,” Daniel said. “It helps them develop intercultural understanding of arts and history. It also gives them a better understanding of diversity in African culture as it relates to the people in Alabama.”

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According to Joan Burroughs with the Institute of Intercultural Studies: Dance, Arts, History, Culture (IISDAHC), the company is in its third year of performances and workshops supported by a grant from IISDAHC through the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

“The tour season began as IISDAHC conducted a fully charged and highly successful ‘Drummers Collaborative, March 10 -12, in the Arlington/West End community’s Crescent Cultural Community Center in Birmingham,”Burroughs said. “Critically acclaimed drummers/percussionists, Chief Baba Neil Clarke and Michael Wimberly, were joined by local drum/percussion artists Harold Atu Murray, Barry Johnson, Ronique Carter, and Denis Ajamu Harris, in facilitating rousing, spirited percussion lessons and conducting stimulating student participatory ‘jam’ sessions.”

The collaboration paved the way for the company’s Alabama Tour, which began in Birmingham on March 26 and runs through April 7.

After visiting Huffman High School on March 27, the company performed in Lowndes, and then Montgomery and Macon Counties.

“During a week’s residency outside Birmingham, Viver Brasil conducted workshops, master classes and performances in Lowndes, Montgomery and Macon Counties, March 28 – 31,” said Burroughs. “They return to Birmingham for a series of school and public events that begin April 1.”

Daniel noted that the performances and the opportunities to talk with and learn from dance company members expands student’s horizons related to careers in the performing arts.

“It brings understanding of performance as a viable profession,” Daniel said. “Sometimes students think it’s just having fun, but they begin to understand people can also have careers in performance. A lot of our kids don’t have the opportunity to see live performances [outside the school system].”

Burroughs said IISDAHC works to create, enhance, and strengthen communities through art and cultural exchange in interactive environments.

“The Alabama State Council on the Arts Project Grant, in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts Community Engagement Grant awarded to Viver Brasil Dance Company, enable IISDAHC and Viver Brasil to reach new audiences, foster community development, provide the highest quality programming, and demonstrate the importance of arts as a key component for quality of life in Alabama,” Burroughs said.

And Daniel noted performances were well received by students, who enjoyed the performance and the chance to learn about Afro-Brazilian music and culture.

“These performances have a major impact on our students,” Daniel said. “Our students love different types of music and it is definitely part of their upbringing. I’ve heard music reduces stress. These performances are different, but the movements and beautiful outfits cause students to say, ‘Wow, this is something I’ve never seen before.’”