State Street Dance Studio builds bridges to Brazil

Sure, there are umpteen performances of “The Nutcracker” across this land this time of year, from community theaters to major companies such as Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet. But for us Brazilophiles, “The Nutcracker” production to be put on by State Street Dance Studio this weekend is special, since it will feature four Brazilian dancers.

Two of the dancers are currently based in the Midwest. Raoni Xavier, a graduate of Escola do Teatro Bolshoi no Brasil — a 13-year-old branch of Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet Academy — is currently with Chicago’s own Elements Contemporary Ballet, while José da Silva, another Bolshoi no Brasil alum, is with the Milwaukee Ballet. Additionally, Gustavo Carvalho de Mendonça and Yasmin Lomondo Caetano dos Santos from Rio de Janeiro’s Companhia Brasileira de Ballet are flying into town on Friday to perform in the celebration of 10 years of “The Nutcracker” productions by Geneva’s State Street Dance Studio.

The weekend also marks a milestone in State Street Dance Studio’s growing connection to Brazil, which started years ago when Linda Cunningham, the company’s founder and artistic director, met Eurika Porto, a Brazilian-born former dancer and choreographer who now lives in Naperville. “We just hit it off,” says Cunningham. “There are so many divas in this business, and it’s just refreshing to find someone as easygoing as her.”

Porto has been working as a dance scout, bringing young Brazilian dancers — many of them alumni of Bolshoi no Brasil — to the U.S. Earlier this year she decided to turn things around and set up a Bolshoi no Brasil internship for a State Street Dance Studio student. Eleven-year-old Emma Sidari of St. Charles was given the honor, making her “the first student in the U.S. to cross the bridge to Bolshoi in Brazil,” Cunnigham says.

Russian-born Pavel Kazarian, the general director of Bolshoi no Brasil, came to Geneva in July to accompany Sidari to Brazil; Porto also flew to Brazil with Sidari and stayed with her during the rigorous three-week course in Joinville, Santa Catarina. It was a big enough deal to make local news and get the attention of Geneva’s mayor.

State Street Dance Studio builds bridges to Brazil
Emma Sidari enters Bolshoi no Brasil
State Street Dance Studio builds bridges to Brazil
Emma Sidari at Bolshoi no Brasil
State Street Dance Studio builds bridges to Brazil
L-R: Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, Emma Sidari and Eurika Porto

Cunningham couldn’t think of a better way to make State Street Dance Studio’s 10th “The Nutcracker” season special than to give it an international flavor: Asides from the four Brazilians, the performances will also feature Cuban natives Ariel Cisneros, formerly of the Joffrey, and Edson Caberara of Chicago’s Hedgwig Dances.

But Cunningham, who will be visiting Bolshoi no Brasil next year, has a soft spot for the Brazilians. “I can’t say enough good things about these dancers,” she says. “I’ve never met a group of people who are so warm and passionate.”

Raoni Xavier — Nephew/Nutcracker Prince
José da Silva — Party Scene Russian & Arabian Dancer
Gustavo Carvalho — Re-enactment Pas de Deux
Yasmin Lomondo — Re-enactment Pas de Deux

“The Nutcracker”
2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, at the Batavia Fine Arts Centre, 1201 Main St., Batavia, IL 60510.
Adults: $25-$35
Children (10 & under): $20-$30

Originally published in our first website, Chicagoano.

Written by Sergio Barreto

Brazilian-American editor, web developer and (occasional) event promoter. As founder and content director for this site, I keep an eye on what's wrong with Brazil, but what really makes my heart beat faster is sharing the exciting things happening in Brazilian tech, music, film, and other creative industries.

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