DANCE TELLS LIFE STORY BRAZOUKA KEEPS BRAZIL VIBES ALIVE
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.
Brazouka writer Pamela StephensonConnolly with dancers Braz Dos Santos
and Romina Hidalgo.