Sao Paulo Dance Company perform Nacho Duato's Gnawa: Photo Iari Davies

Brazil’s highly regarded São Paulo Dance Company have brought their inaugural UK and Ireland tour to a close in Norwich with a programme of three highly controlled and expertly executed pieces.

The programme opened with Anthem, choreographed by Carlos Acosta’s company Acosta Danza resident choreographer Goyo Montero – Acosta’s own relationship with Norwich Theatre includes a touring show and an upcoming reimagining of the Nutcracker. The piece opens dramatically with panting sounds in the stage and a monochrome controlled chaos on stage: the music ranges from militaristic to music box to mechanical. The dancers move as herds and as individuals, suggesting our different identities and evolving belongings.

Sao Paulo Dance Company perform Goyo Montero's Anthem - Photo: Iari Davies

After the break, Gnawa by Nacho Duato (artistic director of the Berlin State Ballet), melds the sound of Islam and north Africa, with the movement and music of Spain. We see twirling duets and fast-paced movements, precisely delivered – with the company frequently moving backwards at pace across the stage, their synchronicity is awe-inspiring.

A fast-paced finale is provided by Brazilian choreographer Cassi Abranches’ Agora provides an exhilarating finale. Starting with an urgent beating clock, the 14-strong troupe come gradually to life, shaking, twitching and running, before exploding in to an exploration of the movement that lives in drums and funky bass lines.

Exploring time and rhythm, she sculpts the movement of each dancer’s body with the percussive beats and bass grooves of Afro-Brazilian fusion. Together with Janaína Castro’s costumes the repeated movements and shapes give a feeling of an Apple advert: a virtual perfection made rule.

Nicolas Fischtel and Gabriel Pederneiras’ lighting helps bring the three pieces all the more graphically to life, with dramatic shifts in scene and tone.

This is a very welcome debut tour, shot through with technical brilliance.

  • São Paulo Dance Company’s UK and Ireland tour concludes at Norwich Theatre Royal on Saturday, 23 March, 2024.