Sheila Newbery Photography

In the spring of 2008, I went to Brazil and spent some time in the dance clubs in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The clubs are popular and the bands play live; the atmosphere is charged. Watching the couples go round the floor, I was struck by the nuance of gesture --- smaller unchoreographed movements couched inside of larger ones --- and by a certain courtliness that hadn't yet vanished from the social repertoire. There was also a look: an unselfconscious abstraction that bespoke relaxation, the larger patterns of movement obviating the need constantly to compose one's face. The abstraction imparted an intriguingly archaic aspect to the figures, and I was reminded of much older representations of dancers --- those from manuscripts, frescoes and urns.

Archival pigment prints (16x21").