Saturday February 28 at the Hollywood Palladium thousands of people gathered to celebrate the culture of Brazil, listen to the beat-centric musical talents, partake of authentic grilled meats and lime-infused caipirinhas, and to shake it like a sambista on the dance floor- or try to, anyway.
A festive mood filtered through the colorful crowd like the feathers floating on stage; the audience sparkled in green and gold, toting shiny purple beads, sequined facemasks, and hands in the air. Nets filled with balloons hung overhead, waiting their moment to drop, and paper-confetti cannons thrilled the crowd with fun explosions all night long. The circular Palladium created one giant dance floor, perfect for the musical celebration, and the surrounding tables on the main level and balcony provided the perfect perch for enjoying the Brazilian food and drink with the entertainment.
On display not only in the entryway of the exhibition hall but broadcast overhead the main stage in brilliant colors on a giant video screen were the works of featured visual artist, Jen Miller. Miller’s new series, the Birds of Paradise, celebrate the raw power and evocative exuberance of sambistas (Samba dancers) and served as aesthetic action-shots for the festivities. The fiery and feathered artwork was right at home next to the live dancers and loud music; their ferocious sensuality flamboyantly displayed through their graceful energy and eloquently captured dynamism.
Miller’s compelling images of defiant angels, created with a combination of painted poster and graphic technique, mirror the composite nature of every human being. The artist’s involvement in Brazilian Carnival 2009 showcased this idea as well, as she performed as a visual artist dancer alongside her friends and her artistic inspiration, Tropidanza. This multi-cultural dance troupe is a visual feast, filled with fire and intensity, whose extravagant costumes and graceful moves provided the party with a heightened sensuality and invigorating charm.
The evening’s performances echoed the festive spirit and did not disappoint. The authentic drum beats of the Unidos da California Samba School, dressed in head-to-toe white, fired up the growing crowd; Nation Beat let loose an inspiring rally with their energetic beats and powerful lead singer. Capoeira tricks and the swirling moves of Viver Brazil also delighted; throughout the night all the passionate performances displayed a true love not only of Brazilian culture, but of the celebration of life in general.
Everyone’s favorite performers and the best part of the night were of course the sambistas of Tropidanza who embody joyfulness. With giant blue feathers and fantastic smiles they shake their love of music and life onto the entire crowd, and no one can resist. Wearing heaps of golden glitter, beaded fringe, multicolor feather headdresses, and mile-wide smiles, the sambistas are living proof that dancing makes you happy. Their festive nature exudes elation, and it is impossible not to catch the contagion and share in the celebration. The best view may have been to the side of the stage, where dancers waiting to take their turn were dancing amongst themselves, not for the crowd, but because they simply love moving to the music.
The night was a glorious party of all things warm and colorful and Brazilian, from the drum beats to the dancing crowd. Most exciting of all is to see the continued contribution of Brazilian culture to the Los Angeles community, and as part of this, Jen Miller’s ongoing creation of Birds of Paradise, artwork that captures the spirit of the dancers and the very essence of female power and beauty. Just as the 2009 Brazilian Carnival inspired people from all over to dance to the rich samba beats, so too does Miller’s art impress the viewer to celebrate life and beauty like you are on the beaches of Brazil herself.