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Mem Hall stage to light up with Afro-Brazilian music and dance

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Hesston Bethel Performing Arts (HBPA) will welcome the power and pageantry of Afro-Brazilian dance, costumes and live music to Bethel College’s Memorial Hall stage Nov. 5 with Viver Brasil, which the Los Angeles Times has called “irrepressible” and “Brazilian to the core.”

Linda Yudin and Luiz Badaró, co-artistic directors, founded Los Angeles-based Viver Brasil in 1997. The award-winning dance company is firmly rooted in the traditional and contemporary forms and techniques of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

The company specializes in bringing to life the beautiful and complex stories of the orixa – the African sacred energies that drive Afro-Brazilian culture – and also in presenting jubilant samba and contemporary Afro-Brazilian dance.

In addition to training in Los Angeles with Badaró and internationally renowned choreographer Rosangela Silvestre, many company members make annual trips to Brazil to refine the repertoire and to absorb and reflect the spirit and expression of Afro-Brazilian culture in northeastern Brazil.

Viver Brasil was selected for the Lester Horton Dance Award in 2000 for outstanding achievement in a company performance for non-Western dance. The company was nominated for a Brazilian Press Award for best representation of Brazilian dance in the United States and for Lester Horton Awards for best achievement in music, dance, costume design and company performance, 2003-06.

Since its inception, Viver Brasil’s list of credits has grown to include a 10-city tour of New Mexico with consistently sold-out concerts in 2007; capacity crowds at the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood, 2003-07; Walt Disney Concert Hall with Pink Martini in 2004; the Brazil-Africa Connection Festival at Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, in 2002; the World Music Festival/Brazil Nights at the Hollywood Bowl in 1999; and the African Marketplace Festival in Los Angeles, 1997-2002, among many others.

The company is committed to increasing awareness of the rich history of Afro-Brazilian dance and music through performances and residencies in scores of elementary and high schools as well as at the college and university level, including dance and music workshops.

On Thursday, Nov. 4, the company will hold a free workshop in Brazilian dance from 3:30-5 p.m. on the Memorial Hall stage. Those interested in participating should contact the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts at 316-283-4902 for registration information. There will be also a pre-concert lecture for ticket holders in Memorial Hall Nov. 5 at 7 p.m., immediately before the concert.

Viver Brasil – which includes dancers, musicians and vocalists – will appear at Bethel College Friday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. Single ticket prices range from $23 to $19, depending on seating section. Discounts are available to students and senior citizens.

Upcoming HBPA performances are the men’s a cappella group Chanticleer, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, in Memorial Hall; Lyric Arts Trio (vocal and instrumental), Sunday, Feb. 20, at Hesston Mennonite Church; and Three Part Invention (instrumental), Sunday, April 17, at Hesston Mennonite Church. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 620-327-8158 (Hesston College) or 316-284-5205 (Bethel College)or see www.hesston.edu/hbpa/.

This program is presented in part by the Kansas Arts Commission, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, which believes a great nation deserves great art, and is supported by Mid-America Arts Alliance, with generous underwriting by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kansas Arts Commission and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

HBPA’s presentation of Viver Brasil is also made possible by special funding from the National Dance Project, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts, which is generously supported with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and additional funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation and the Boeing Company Charitable Trust, with additional funding for special initiatives from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French-American Cultural Exchange.

The Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts series, now in its 29th year, started in 1982 as Hesston Performing Arts (HPA) with funding and planning provided by Hesston College and the Hesston community. In 1998, HPA planners launched a partnership with Bethel College, North Newton, and the series name changed to Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts. Hesston College and Bethel College host five performances by world-renowned or regionally acclaimed artists each year.

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