Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Native Empire, Diverse Creativity

The days are counting down and I am moving at an ever increasing pace.  Cars honk, vendors yell, flags whip, sweat pours - time is quickly running out, and I have blisters on my toes.  In the rehearsal tents, dancers and actors with colored bibs spend hours practicing with few breaks, all in silence.  Meanwhile, acrobats and models move toward opposite ends of the floor to review movement charts, while marshals flood in to line the way for the invisible athletes, all in silence.

In order to get the job done, completely rehearsed and staged, and ready for the masses, everyone is practicing with earphones channeled to listen only to their own translator, instructor, choreographer, or music.  It's a strange sight to see hundreds "shadow box" their separate performances simultaneously, but this is how you put on a production with 6,000 performers.

It's also the one moment that Brazil will show the world its culture, people, and importance in the world. To do that, there are numerous historic moments taken into account in telling Brazilian history.  Take notes of these, because they will appear in one form or another - how would you stage these?

The Amazon & Indigenous Peoples:  Before European explorers came to Brazil, thousands of tribes existed in the Amazon region.  The largest rain forest and river on earth was their means of life, food, and travel.

Amazon River and Forrest
The Portuguese & Slavery:  Brazil was claimed in 1500 for Portugal by Pedro Cabral.  These Europeans developed a slave trade with Africa to help develop the cash crop of sugar cane.  By the 1700s, gold was discovered and more African slaves were brought in to mine.  Even after freedom in the late 1800s, black citizens settled into slums, called favellas, that sadly still exist and separate the people and affluency today.

One of MANY favellas in Rio
Empire: The Portuguese king Joao VI was driven from Portugal in 1808 by Napoleon, and he fled to Rio de Janeiro, where he reigned the Portuguese Empire until 1821, after which he returned to Portugal leaving his eldest son Pedro in Brazil.  Pedro had other goals in mind, so the following year, he declared war on his father, won independence, and was crowned Emperor of Brazil.

The last Emperor of Brazil - Pedro II
Republic, Crops, & Modernization:  After years of many wars, a coup was thrown in 1889, and the Brazilian Republic began.  Along with democracy, immigrants from Japan, Europe, and Africa came to grow new cash crops like coffee and extract rubber.

*First* Airplane: As a proud American, I have to mention that although the first airplane was flown by the Wright Brothers in 1903, Brazil is VERY proud to call their own Alberto Santos-Dumont the first to fly in 1906...

...because their 14-bis plane was the first with wheels and take off on its own.

It later was authenticated that the Wright Brothers' Flyer successfully took off on its own several times 3 years before the 14-bis, but you can probably guess how I fared in this argument.

(Where's that rolling-my-eyes emoji on my keyboard?)

Military Rule & Return:  After a military coup in 1964, artistic, political, and social change was halted until a return to democracy in 1985.  Brazil is a young country - they have a great story to tell!

Finally, today's teaser...hmmm, yesterday I mentioned a little construction project going on.  I wonder where/what it is?

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