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The Art of Resistance

The crisis that affects one of the greatest symbols of Brazilian art

quinta-feira 11 de janeiro de 2018, por Creuza Gravina, Creuza Gravina

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In July 2009 the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, one of the most important in Brazil, completed 100 years with the doors closed for restoration works, which lasted about a year and a half. During this period, the performances of the Orchestra and the Dance Corps were damaged and most of the technical staff worked in a rotation system, attending the theater only two or three times a week. Outside, street vendors lamented the closure of space and reported economic losses since the works began and programming was reduced.

"It is not heaven because nobody has seen the sky, but it is also because it is very beautiful.".

With this phrase, the street vendor defined all her enchantment with the Municipal Theater. Lianilde, or Maria, as she preferred to be called, sold pamonha, corn and derivatives in the vicinity of the theater. The merchant was one of the few people, among those who worked in the neighborhood of the Municipal, who knew the place inside. She used to go to the theater with her son on Sundays, when the entrance had a symbolic value of R $ 1.

(Photo Ricardo Galvão for article by Creuza Gravina 2009)

The theater was reopened in May 2010, but in 2012 it had to close its doors for more than three months to assess risks and cleanliness due to the collapse of three buildings neighboring it.

At the beginning of 2017 artists and technicians faced another serious problem: the financial crisis, the biggest since its foundation, with constant delays in the payment of salaries (including 4 consecutive months without salary and without the thirteenth) - a situation that reaches great part of the employees and retirees of the State of Rio de Janeiro - about 200 thousand people impacted. Some shows, such as Tchaikovsky’s ’Swan Lake’, had to be canceled. The opera ’Norma’, by Vincenzo Bellini, had to be transformed into concert only, while others were postponed. The public continued to support and applauding standing the shows that were performed.

Orchestra, dance corps and technicians, even having to dribble the crisis with the accomplishment of other tasks, they chose to protest and to react through the own art. In May of the same year they performed a show at the theater’s door to attract attention of the population to the problem. In the same month, despite all the difficulties, they presented the cantata Carmina Burana.

Among the alternatives found, the first-ballet dancer, Filipe Moreira. who has danced in different parts of the world representing theater, such as Miami, Orlando, Mexico and Argentina, opted to work with UBER to survive. Some members of the Choir and Ballet went abroad, while some young people decided to prepare for federal contests.

The first ballerina Claudia Mota sought to create the Ballet Gala Brasil group that presents Spectacles gathering pieces of classic and contemporary repertoires. The goal is to bring together house dancers to travel the country by performing at festivals, for example, thus keeping the dance and getting paid while the salary issue is not normalized.

Chico Trompa, horn player, joined the orchestra in 1986 through a public contest and claims that over the course of these 32 years, theater has never faced a so critical situation as the present one.

"The impact was terrible !!! Both financial and emotional !!! Watching our beautiful Theater being treated without the slightest respect hurts too much in people’s soul !! "

Chico Trompa (Horn) - who adopted the instrument even in the artistic name

The instrumentalist, responsible for one of the instruments considered most difficult, the horn, stands out all his love for music:

“Music, besides being the art I love with passion, is my profession, so it’s as important in my life as eating, walking and breathing!"

The problem with payments persisted throughout the year and new protests - concerts were held on October 31 and December 18, drawing more and more audiences. In the event last month, symbolic embrace was held as all the attendees - employees and spectators - hand in hand around the house of shows.

The excitement and sympathy of the audience that took over the square in front of Theater was visible. Some spectators seemed dazzled by the performances, while others spoke of the joy of being able to witness those scenes previously restricted to the interior of the building but on the other hand they had compassion for the employees.

Mr Felix Marcos Pereira (left) was one of those who were enchanted by the spectacle.

Other musicians and dancers have joined in support of the artists of the house, making the spectacle even more beautiful and moving.

Members of the School of Samba Portela

Notable personalities from the theater, such as former first ballerina Ana Botafogo, were present. Ana even got invited to take over the direction of the space, even sent a list of demands that included mainly the payment of wages, but as she did not have that guarantee she refused the position. Fernando Bicudo then took over instead and at the end of the year the government deposited two salaries. Ana follows with the direction of the Corpo de Baile along with Cecilia Kerche.

Ana Botafogo and Carlinhos de Jesus

In the middle of the crisis, a collective artistic direction was chosen and for 2018 the promise of regularization of the salaries until February 21 and new programming from March.

Chico Trompa keeps hope:

"Expectations for 2018 are good, but we still do not know if the government will be able to adjust the accounts !!! The new director is super competent and articulate !!! I hope fantastic programming is done and everything goes back to normal.!"

(Photos by Creuza Gravina)

Creuza Gravina

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