POSTPONED: Frevo dance presentation
Note: In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, this event has been postponed. Stay tuned for rescheduling details.
Kate Spanos, PhD will present her research on frevo dance in a talk entitled, “A Dance of Resistance from Recife, Brazil: Carnivalesque Improvisation in Frevo,” at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.
Frevo is an energetic music and dance that symbolizes Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco: loud brass instruments provide the fast-paced music and dancers in bright costumes hold small colorful umbrellas as they perform quick footwork and acrobatics. The word frevo is a colloquial form of the Portuguese verb ferver (“to boil”) that alludes its frenetic nature and the hot, sweaty Carnival during which it is danced, especially in Pernambuco’s capital, Recife. In this presentation, I present ethnographic research based on six months of fieldwork in Recife to examine frevo as a “dance of resistance” that implements strategies derived from its origins in the Brazilian martial art of capoeira. In considering how frevo’s playful and carnivalesque nature combines with its improvisational techniques, I propose the term “carnivalesque improvisation” to describe how dancers communicate cultural knowledge and work through and around the unpredictability and frequent violence of Carnival and Recife’s society at large. I examine the teaching methodologies and performance strategies of selected frevo groups, performers, and choreographers to show how practitioners challenge sociocultural boundaries and socioeconomically determined attitudes.
Kate Spanos, PhD is a dancer and dance scholar specializing in studies of dance, music, and festival in Brazil, the Eastern Caribbean, and Ireland. In her research, she examines kinesthetic strategies involved in “dances of resistance” from cultures around the world. She has conducted research on frevo in Recife, Brazil as a postdoctoral Fulbright U.S. Scholar and on masquerades on the Caribbean island of Montserrat as a doctoral candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her Master’s in Traditional Irish Dance Performance from the University of Limerick in Ireland.