Ballet is one of the most practiced dances in the world. It was originated six centuries ago, in Italy, and developed in England, Russia and France. Ballet’s influence spread throughout the world, and it became popular in Brazilian territories as well. Even though the government doesn’t invest much in the art sector, many dancers managed to overcome the adversities and stand out in Brazil and all over the globe.
In order to appreciate Brazilian ballet, here are some dancers who made history, or are on their way to, that you must get to know!
- Manuela Roçado
The 20-year-old ballerina started dancing 13 years ago, at the age of 7. Born in Rio de Janeiro, she is most known for her pas de deux in “The Nutcracker”, for the Cisne Negro Dance Company, from São Paulo. Throughout her career, Manuela participated in many dance competitions, both in Brazil and around the world. She competed in the United States, in Germany and even made a special appearance as a guest dancer at the 2019 International Ballet Festival in Miami.
- Letícia Dias
Also from Rio, Letícia made her first contact with ballet 20 years ago, being just 4 years old. Dias quickly managed to make her career international, dancing in stages around the globe when she was only a teenager. She made it all the way to London, nailing a spot in the Royal Ballet School, after winning a scholarship at the 2013 Prix de Lausenne, one of the most prestigious dance competitions in the world. In 2016, Letícia joined The Royal Ballet, working with professionals like Marianela Nuñez, a huge ballet sensation. Dias performs with the corps de ballet and also plays soloist roles.
- Jovani Furlan
From Santa Catarina, Jovani started his ballet studies when he was 11 years old, at The Bolshoi Theater School in Brazil. Jovani also participated in both national and international dance competitions. In 2011, Furlan began training at the Miami City Ballet School and joined Miami City Ballet (MCB) in 2012. He was promoted to soloist three years later and was named an MCB Principal Dancer in 2017. Nowadays, he is a soloist at the prestigious New York City Ballet.
- Vitória Bueno
Descendant of the land of “pão de queijo”, also known as Minas Gerais, Vitória became news in the beginning of 2021, getting a well-deserved recognition. Born without her arms, the 16-year-old girl turned into an inspirational icon, making more space for people like her in the modality. She dreams about becoming a professional dancer, and is already on her way to achieve it. The ballerina got a gold medal from the Royal Academy of Dance, one of the most respected ballet schools in the world.
- Ingrid Silva
This girl from Rio initiated her dance classes at the age of 8. In Brazil, she did her internship at the Deborah Colker Dance Company and Grupo Corpo, two much esteemed companies. Ingrid got a scholarship to study at the Dance Theater of Harlem, in New York, which completely changed her life. Thanks to her talent and hard work, she was promoted to the highest possible rank, becoming a Principal Dancer with the company. Currently, Ingrid uses her space and influence to discuss the difficulties people of color still face in ballet, being an inspiration to black ballerinas everywhere.
- Mercedes Baptista
Born in 1921, Mercedes Baptista paved the way to many girls and future ballerinas. She was the first black ballerina to perform in the Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro, an important landmark of the city. Dancer, choreographer and teacher, she made history and was recognized as the responsible for consolidating the identity of Afro-Brazilian dance and also became an important folklore dance icon. Baptista died in 2014, when she was 93 years old.
- Deborah Colker
Deborah Colker is another member of the “carioca club”, also from Rio de Janeiro. Combining dance movements with audacious stunts, she became a revolutionary contemporary choreographer; her pieces of work are internationally acclaimed. In 2001, she was rewarded with the Laurence Olivier Award in the category “Outstanding Achievement in Dance". Deborah was the first woman to direct a Cirque du Soleil show, called Ovo, in 2009. Nowadays, she is the owner of the Deborah Colker Dance Company, much appreciated in Brazil.
- Bruna Gaglianone
Representing the North East region in Brazil, Bruna is from Maranhão. Dancing since she was 8 years old, the ballerina was accepted at The Bolshoi Theater School in Brazil and moved all the way to Joinville, in Santa Catarina, when she was only 12. Bruna always stood out as a student and, after her graduation, she was hired by the Bolshoi Ballet, in Moscow. She performs for the company since 2011 and has starred in many big shows, even conquering soloist roles.
Unfortunately, ballet, and the art sector in general, isn’t really valued nowadays. This is why is important to share and appreciate the artists who are fighting to keep it alive. Hope you enjoyed this list and felt inspired by these incredible dancers who make Brazil proud!
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