The Brazilian Newton Moraes is a poet of the human body, who ties sensitivity into the art of dance. Through choreography that blooms from the hardships and the pleasures of the soul, he has become one of the major references of contemporary ballet in Canada.
By Juliana Dalla | Translated by Loretta Murphy
From Porto Alegre to the world
Newton Moraes first stepped into the world of dance while he was still in Porto Alegre, a city in southern Brazil. His heart and desire to improve his art caused the dancer to move to Canada in 1991. “I came to Canada at the invitation of the anthropologist Robert Shirley. He always encouraged me to develop my art and said that, here in Canada, I would have more chances to learn new techniques, as this is one of the leading countries in the dance world. Bob, as I affectionately called him, was my companion for 23 years, until his death in 2008,” he says.
In Toronto, Newton created the dance company Newton Moraes Dance Theatre, recognized and respected internationally for integrating Latin American and Canadian arts in his repertoire.
Newton Moraes Dance Theatre
The Company’s performances engage and raise awareness in a unique way. Newton believes this is because the performances reflect the multiculturalism that Canadians, born or raised here, experience daily in the country. “The company’s productions always present a Brazilian vision of universal issues and themes such as human relations and spiritual quests, and so there is always the possibility for the public to identify with some aspect of the work presented.”
In addition to the themes of universal content, the Newton Moraes Dance Theatre seeks to create an exchange between the diverse arts, such as theatre, music, video and crafts, turning his shows even more original and diverse.
Inspiration and hard work
Each verse spoken or whispered in the form of dance has, as its source of inspiration, the universe that surrounds the dancer. His condition as a gay man, his love for Bob, the artistic trends in the world: everything can become raw material for his creations. Of all these inspirations, one in particular deserves mention: “I count on my mentor Jean Sasportes, a dancer in the German dance company Pina Bausch Wuppertal Tanztheater. He is one of my greatest inspirations,” says Newton.
Even with the support of the public and of critics, the dancer works hard to prove the importance of his art and the need for dance in society. Without the support he receives from friends, partners, and some representations, institutions and companies, many of his performances would not make it to the stage.
“Over these last 15 years, my company has received support from the Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Consulate of Brazil in Toronto, the Embassy of Canada in Germany and in Colombia, the Department of Foreign Affairs Canada, the Municipality of Porto Alegre, the Choreographic Centre of Rio de Janeiro and the Goethe Institute in Toronto. At the moment, we are also receiving support from MelloHawk Logistics, the Consulate of Brazil in Toronto, Rio 40 Graus, Cintia de Souza, Bavia Arts, Wave Magazine, Brazil News, Discover Brazil Magazine, Brazil Day Canada, the BRAFFTV Festival and the Brazil Film Fest. I insist on mentioning and thanking everyone, because I think this recognition is important.”
Newton also fondly remembers those who are no longer here to applaud him, but who were essential for the dancer to achieve his deserved success: “I would like to mention three people who were very important to me and who, unfortunately or fortunately, are already somewhere else: my eternal friend, companion and supporter Robert Shirley, my spiritual guide Father Beto de Xango and a great friend who left us too early, André Gravelin, Dre. ”
Such generosity, gratitude and sensitivity charm those who have the fortunate opportunity to take a few steps, whether on stage, in the audience or in life, beside Newton Moraes.