Contempo Physical Dance to premiere ‘SenZalma’ at The Cowles Center this February

Contempo Physical Dance to premiere ‘SenZalma’ at The Cowles Center this February

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Jenny Pennaz

Managing Director



Contempo Physical Premieres SenZalma at The Cowles Center


MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Contempo Physical Dance will premiere SenZalma at The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, 528 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403, February 7-9, 2014.


SenZalma is inspired by the historic poem, O Navio Negreiro (The Slave Ship), by the well-known, respected and studied Brazilian writer and poet, Castro Alves (1847-1871), whose profound writing and vivid imagery incites fervent and sublime explorations of the company’s dynamic fusion of Afro-Brazilian dance, capoeira and contemporary dance.


Castro Alves is known in Brazil as “the poet of the slaves” and O Navio Negreiro is perhaps one of the most influential abolition poems ever written. Castro Alves wasn’t afraid to depict horrific scenes, yet don’t expect to see a literal representation of the poem on stage. Choreographer Marciano Silva dos Santos turns the poetry on its head, where struggle and brutality are wrapped into strength and humanity. “I don’t intend to demonstrate the tragedy in the poem, but the expressiveness of the power and beauty behind the history.”


Marciano makes a commentary by combining two words for the title of his most recent work SenZalma. “Senzalas” were large structures created specifically to house slaves in Brazil who were believed to not have souls. “Alma” in Portuguese means soul. “I’m interested in exploring the soul of the movement and the human experience,” explains Marciano. SenZalma is a contemporary response to the poem.


The score for SenZalma is original music by Brazilian composer and professor, Divan, from the University of Campinas in São Paulo. Marciano and Divan met at the Joinville Dance Festival in Brazil in 2009. Marciano was immediately attracted to his work and asked to use several compositions for the company’s debut performance of Motirô at The Ritz Theater in 2012. The pair has been working remotely from Minnesota and Brazil since July to create the music and choreography simultaneously.


The performance will also feature visual and lighting design by award-winning artists, Josh Sarantitis and Mike Grogan. Josh has been creating monumental professional work in public spaces for over twenty years. He is known for his glass installations and mosaic murals, including his Loring Lilies in Minneapolis, MN. In a recent conversation with Marciano about the visual design for SenZalma, he said after seeing the choreography he wanted to express “the positive emanating from a pressure point.”



About Contempo Physical Dance


Contempo Physical Dance aspires to be internationally recognized for its dynamic fusion of Afro-Brazilian dance, capoeira and contemporary dance. Now in its third season, the company is dedicated to contemporary dance research, the creation of vibrant new movement, and the performance of dance works that challenge human physicality and invigorate audiences everywhere. Founder, artistic director and choreographer, Marciano Silva dos Santos, is a native of Brazil and came to the United States after being recognized by the American Folkloric Society as a culturally diverse artist of exceptional merit. His rigorous approach to body-based research produces distinct Brazilian-imbued movement palettes and highly physical choreographic works. 


Who: Contempo Physical Dance (

What: SenZalma (World Premiere)

When: Friday, February 7, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.

            Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.

            Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.

Where: The Cowles Center for Dance & the Performing Arts

            528 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403


For Tickets ($16-$24, including fees): Visit  or call the box office at 612-206-3600



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