Balé Folclórico Dance Performance at The Philadelphia Museum of Art

May 23, 2023

The performers from Balé Folclórico da Bahia in  Brazil will this week present a newly commissioned dance inspired by Julien's exhibition Lina Bo Bardi - A Marvellous Entanglement (on view until May 29). This new work adapts to the architecture of the William Forum stairs and celebrates the monumental installation of Julien’s film.


Balé Folclórico da Bahia, the only professional folk dance company in Brazil, was formed in 1988 by Walson Botelho and Ninho Reis. Based in Salvador in the northern state of Bahia, and under the leadership of artistic director José Carlos Arandiba, the 32-member troupe of dancers, musicians, and singers performs a repertory that originates from Bahian folkloric dances of African origin and includes slave dances, capoeira, samba, and those that celebrate Carnival. The company highlights the region’s culture within a contemporary theatrical vision.


Production Credits: 

Artistic Director: Isaac Julien

Choreography: José Carlos Arandiba (Zebrinha)

Dancers: Edilene Alves, Nildinha Fonseca, Slim Melo, Arismar Adoté Jr, Janete Da Silva

Vocals: Sanara Rocha

Music: Andy Cowton / Karl Mainzer

Costume design: Carol Barreto

Production consultant: Rafaela Mendes Ferreira

Museum production team: Lindsey Nevin, Swagato Chakravorty, Linnea West, Erica Battle, Stephen A. Keever, Jay Roselius, and Lauren Hunter


Schedule of performances is: 

Friday, May 26, 5:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, May 27, 11:30 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.


Across nine screens, Isaac Julien’s Lina Bo Bardi—A Marvellous Entanglement (2019) explores the life, work, and legacy of the Italian-Brazilian modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi (1914–1992). Born in Rome, Italy, and relocating to São Paulo, Brazil in the 1940s, Bo Bardi was a multifaceted artist and thinker who developed an architectural practice rooted in the social potential of space and the fusion of Italian and Brazilian culture and aesthetics. Emphasizing improvisation, recycling existing spaces, and utilizing novel building materials, Bo Bardi designed some of Brazil’s most iconic art and cultural institutions, including the São Paulo Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia, SESC Pompéia, and the Teatro Oficina.

In a new arrangement imagined by Julien specifically for this presentation, A Marvellous Entanglement establishes a vital architectural dialogue between Bo Bardi’s visionary buildings and the Williams Forum, the central space of Frank Gehry’s expansion project. Through a carefully constructed choreography of sound and moving images, Julien combines six years of archival research, on-location footage shot across multiple Bo Bardi-designed buildings, voice and dance performances, and recitations of Bo Bardi’s writings by two actresses. Quoting Bo Bardi in his title, Julien invokes her spirit and points to the liberatory possibilities of non-linear histories within global circulations of art and culture.


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