Inspired by João Cabral de Melo Neto’s masterpiece ‘Cão sem Plumas’, Dog Without Feathers is a mesmerising dance piece to watch unfold. 

Combining classical, contemporary and ritual dances, Deborah Colker’s Dog Without Feathers is a vivid and mystical experience to watch unfold as it takes audiences into the heart of communities and their relationships with rivers that form the centre of their existence.

Having won international Prix Benois de la Danse 2018, Deborah Colker’s choreography for Dog Without Feathers (who choreographed the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympic Games) flows beautifully as the Capibaribe River in Brazil that inspires it. There are some truly exquisite movements and shapes created by the dancers themselves (all perfectly and accurately timed), filled with great drama and power that keeps the audience intrigued throughout. Every move is carried out with great precision and delicacy.

This extraordinary blend of choreography inspired by ritual and contemporary dances is highlighted even further thanks to Claudio Assis and the black and white films that capture the area vividly – even if at times having the dancers on screen can prove a slight distraction from what is happening on the stage. But these films also highlight the element of survival and suffering that those who live in this area go through on a daily basis, ensuring that the audience never loses focus on heart wrenching element of what is being explored.

Everything about this show is designed to allow the audience to feel as immersed as possible in this mystical adventure inspired by ‘Cão Sem Plumas’, the poem by Brazilian poet João Cabral de Melo Neto. From Gringo Cardia’s simple but effective set design to Jorginho De Carvalho’s lighting design, everything works in perfect synchronicity to create the feeling of being in a completely different world and learning about different communities.

While it is a piece filled with plenty of drama, there are moments towards the end of Dog Without Feathers that seem to run out of energy and can slightly diminish from the power and coherency of what has unfolded in front of us.

This aside, Dog Without Feathers is a dynamic, mesmerising dance piece that shows just how a variety of arts can be blended effectively together to create an engaging and dramatic piece of work.

By Emma Clarendon

Dog Without Feathers continues to perform at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre until the 10th May.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐