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Press Release for Sunday, January 25, 2009

DanceBrazil To Bring High-Energy Style to UNF Fine Arts Center

DanceBrazil To Bring High-Energy Style
to UNF Fine Arts Center:
“Forbidden” martial art, samba mix on-stage

(Jacksonville, FL) –DanceBrazil will bring spirited Afro-Brazilian dance with live music to The University of North Florida Fine Arts Center on Saturday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for this Winn-Dixie sponsored performance start at $30 for adults.

Under the direction of acclaimed choreographer and master capoeirista Jelon Vieira, DanceBrazil performs gravity-defying acts of superhuman physical prowess within exciting and unique contemporary dance. The company includes touring musicians and martial arts masters.

For more than a quarter of a century, DanceBrazil has brought audiences to their feet with passionate performances of traditional and contemporary Afro-Brazilian dance, including capoeira, a combination of martial arts, expression and ritual developed 500 years ago by African slaves in Brazil.

"The dancers and capoeiristas are thrilling in their displays of passion, discipline and power set to soul-stirring live music," said Joseph Harris, executive director of the UNF Fine Arts Center. "DanceBrazil is the most exciting and sexy dance company I have seen in recent years."

Vieira, founder and artistic director of DanceBrazil, describes capoeira as "a fight like a dance and a dance like a fight." The form is thought to have developed in the 16th and 17th centuries as a means of self-defense for Africans brought to Brazil and enslaved by the Portuguese.

Forbidden to practice capoeira, the slaves disguised the form as a dance and "played" the round, fluid, low-to-the-ground movements to pulsating musical beats that remain part of capoeira. Some say the moves — in which only head, hands and feet touch the ground — were developed to avoid dirtying the white religious clothes worn by the slaves.

No capoeira circle is without someone playing a birimbau, a tall, slender instrument made from a wooden stick, string and a gourd. Drums and tambourines also may accompany the call-and-response songs, which tell old stories of slavery and new tales of life and love in Vieira's native Bahia, home to the majority of the country's Afro-Brazilian population.
Vieira and the late Loremil Machado were the first artists to bring capoeira to the United States. In 1975, Vieira — speaking no English — immigrated to New York and began hosting grassroots workshops at the Clark Center for the Arts. He founded DanceBrazil two years later.

In 1980, Alvin Ailey joined the board of directors and the company soon was traveling throughout Europe and the United States, performing at prestigious venues such as the John F. Kennedy and Lincoln Centers.
In the years since, capoeira achieved widespread popularity (second only to soccer in Brazil), its influence can be seen in both modern and hip-hop performances. Vieira now divides his time between New York and Boca do Rio, Brazil, using capoeira to build self-esteem, self-discipline and a sense of social consciousness in children and young adults.

Tickets and Information:
Individual tickets are $42, $36, and $30 for the general public and $10 for students. For complete information about any shows or to purchase single tickets, visit or call the UNF Ticket Box Office at (904) 620-2878. Patrons can visit the Box Office in person at the University of North Florida, Building 45, Room 1400, 1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32224. Hours are 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 90 minutes prior to show time.

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About The University of North Florida Fine Arts Center
Established in 2001, The University of Florida Fine Arts Center has built a rich tradition of showcasing an eclectic series of world-class performers, commercial entertainers, ethnic music and dance, cutting edge performances, and children’s programming as well as the premiere of new works to support upcoming artists. The Center’s goal is to enhance the academic programs of the University and to complement the cultural offerings within Jacksonville, building new audiences, and contributing to the quality of life and economic development of the city.

About Winn-Dixie
Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. is one of the nation's largest food retailers. Founded in 1925, the Company is headquartered in Jacksonville, FL. The Company currently operates 521 retail grocery locations including more than 400 in-store pharmacies in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, and Mississippi. For more information, please visit