Lulaworld Festival, a happening event with shows through the beginning of June. I was able to attend the Red Hot Samba night on June 11. The show featured Dandha da Hora – Percussionist, master dancer, educator, and lead vocalist of the Santa Cruz-based group SambaDa. The show also featured drum group T. Dot Batu and dance group Dance Migration.
Dandha da Hora is originally from Salvador, Bahia, dancing since the age of 6 she is one of the lead dancers of the Ilê Aiyê dance group. The first black African Brazilian dance group that was founded in 1974. Dandha da Hora has shared the stage with Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Daniela Mercury.
Dance Migration, a Toronto based group providing authentic Brazilian samba dance kicked off the samba party. The first number featured two dancers, one named Miranda doing a samba style number with a grand headpiece reminiscent of the famed Carmen Miranda. The group used recorded Brazilian music for most of their dance performances.
There were many exciting dance numbers and some beautiful solos by dancers from the company. The master of ceremonies explained that some of the group performances were by students of the Dance Migration school and for some this was a first time performance in front of an audience.
All of the dancers performed with brilliance, confidence and passion. A passion that the audience picked up on and fed off of. There was very little down time, dance after dance progressed smoothly and left you wanting more, The MC filled in any of the spaces with interviews of dancers, drummers, or setting up the big samba dance contest. A competition that had seven audience members competing against each other for a valuable prize, or at least a fun and cool prize. The audience voted by cheers and hand claps. The winner, a guy, with some pretty good moves.
The next part of the show was a reenactment of Carnival in Salvador, Bahia with the T. Dot Batu leading in through the Lula Lounge a group of colourful costumed, feather laden, samba dancers and Dandha da Hora in the centre, twirling, leaping and gliding with graceful elegance towards the main stage.
When the group took to the stage the drummers took their positions and Dandha da Hora grabbed a microphone and drum sticks. Singing, chanting and drumming the ensemble proceeded to stir the crowd into a frenzy and this continued for the remaining portion of the show.
The leader of the drum group Mestre Patricio ‘Pato’ Irie conducted the group through many exciting samba reggae tunes. It took Dandha da Hora a few hand signals to allow for a more subdued drum group that allowed for her to sing to the audience in a dynamic fashion.
Dandha da Hora is an exciting performer, her presence is powerful, her movements graceful, her singing is delightful. At this night’s performance she would share the stage with local drumming group T. Dot Batu. I counted fourteen drummers on stage. They combined to form an explosion of sound and motion that had everyone in the Lula Lounge up and dancing.
Note: the author is related to a principal member of Dance Migration.