DANCE TELLS LIFE STORY BRA­ZOUKA KEEPS BRAZIL VIBES ALIVE

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Dance Stage - Tanya MacNaughton

PAMELA Stephen­son-Connolly dis­cov­ered her pas­sion for dance as a child when she and her sis­ter were sent to classes dur­ing their re­cov­ery from po­lio, and dance soon gave way to act­ing.

She was born in New Zealand but raised in Aus­tralia, and stud­ied at the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Dra­matic Arts. On grad­u­a­tion, she per­formed six plays at Perth’s Play­house The­atre for Edgar Met­calfe be­fore a world­wide ca­reer in the­atre, com­edy, psy­chol­ogy and writ­ing beck­oned, along with mar­riage to co­me­dian Billy Connolly.

“I didn’t re­turn to dance un­til I had the op­por­tu­nity to do Strictly Come Danc­ing in the UK in 2012, which was weird and not some­thing I would have nor­mally done, but it hap­pened dur­ing a time in my life where I was ready for some frivolity,” Stephen­son-Connolly said.

“I’d been do­ing some­thing very dark in the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo, help­ing sur­vivors of the atroc­i­ties there, and it was so aw­ful that I was ready for a breather.

“A lot of peo­ple said I’d make a fool of my­self, in­clud­ing my hus­band. After the show I didn’t want to stop danc­ing, so I looked around for a so­cial dance I would en­joy.”

She dis­cov­ered con­tem­po­rary Brazil­ian dance Lam­bazouk, which has a ba­sis in Lam­bada and is danced to Zouk mu­sic from the Caribbean. In the process she met dancer Braz Dos San­tos and the idea to write dance­drama pro­duc­tion Bra­zouka was born.

Chore­ographed and di­rected by Ar­lene Phillips, the show pre­miered at Ed­in­burgh Fringe Fes­ti­val in July with a cast of 16 dancers, in­clud­ing Dos San­tos and part­ner Rom­ina Hi­dalgo, and will tour Perth in Oc­to­ber.

“Billy nar­rated it and Braz tells a lit­tle bit of his own story in spo­ken word too,” Stephen­son-Connolly said.

“It’s ba­si­cally Braz’s story but to be hon­est we could have cho­sen any­one in the cast be­cause they all have amaz­ing sto­ries.

“He was a fish­er­man when he was a kid and didn’t get to go to school be­cause he had to earn money for his fam­ily. He wit­nessed

Whisson the birth of Lam­bada by peek­ing through the bordello doors and even­tu­ally be­gan to learn how to dance it him­self.

“It’s the feel­ing, the pas­sion and the vibe of th­ese dancers that re­ally spoke to me and I wanted to make sure that was on stage.”

Now based in New York, Stephen­sonCon­nolly said she was en­vi­ous of the Bra­zouka dancers and longed to get up on stage with them.

“I keep say­ing to Ar­lene, there must be some lit­tle cameo for me,” she said.

Pic­ture: Mar­cus

Bra­zouka writer Pamela Stephen­sonCon­nolly with dancers Braz Dos San­tos

and Rom­ina Hi­dalgo.

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