COVID-19 has killed over 2 million people, but it didn’t kill Helbert Pimenta’s creativity.
“For dancers, life is almost like a novel,” explains the Brazilian dancer and choreographer. “We go through a lot, a lot of adversity, a lot of times of struggle – and we adapt, we change and we grow. So COVID is just one more thing that we face as artists. “
Pimenta is probably best known as a member of Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo, but he also brought his talents to PDX Contemporary Ballet. When he was asked to choreograph a piece for the company, an unusual symbiosis was born. Communicating from Brazil with the dancers, Pimenta helped create a morphosea film in several parts which translates the themes of Franz Kafka Metamorphosis moving.
For Pimenta, who calls himself Nem (pronounced like “name”), a morphose is an ambitious new chapter in a life of adventure. Speaking through a translator, he revealed seven stories from his epic journeys as a choreographer, dancer and traveler.
1. My mother’s participation in my work
Her influence was very important to me, and it was very important that she support me. I said to myself: “One day, I will take my mother to see me dance, and she will see that I am doing the right thing, that I am working really hard to become a dancer, and that all this work, all her trust in me, it was worth it.” And then the day came and she was coming to a show and the whole team and the whole Grupo Corpo company was like, “Oh my God! Your mother is here!”
2. Maria Gabriela Correia
A friend of mine once said, “Let’s take this [dance] class.” When I was in the studio, I heard, “Five! Six! Seven! Eight!” It was Maria Gabriela’s voice, and I said, “Oh my God, I want to take lessons with this woman who looks very crazy, but also hot.”
Once we were playing in a city in Lebanon. There was this woman who showed up in the afternoon or early evening in front of the hotel with a big sky-blue car. We drove, drove, drove. Then it was night and she said, “Go to bed [on top of the car] and look at the sky.” The car drove in the desert without a driver for a long time. And for me this was a very unusual and special occasion that I cannot forget.
4. White Night in Paris
There’s that night when the moon stays out longer in the night that they call Nuit Blanche in Paris. They have lots and lots of exhibitions and people doing art and performing in every corner, every place you can go in Paris. There is a church near a museum at the end of a street with very high ceilings. People were hanging from the ceiling with this horn and they were whispering things… and people were going to listen to the whispers. People went so crazy because it was kind of angelic, like it came from heaven.
Just before COVID we were here. We were doing Alaska, Canada, Seattle and Portland. But the place that is very special for me is Budapest, because it is a very crazy, beautiful and unique city. We climbed that mountain there. And then we decided to go down, but I couldn’t because I was dizzy from being afraid of the height. I thought, “Get a hold of yourself, Nem!” I decided to go down in zigzags so I wouldn’t have to face down. So I faced my fear of heights in Budapest.
6. Social work
I’ve been asked many times to talk about being a black dancer. I gave a lot of lectures to children to show them that it is possible, that life is possible outside of violence, criminal acts and all that. Most of the time, I don’t get paid to do this kind of social work. But it is a pleasure for me to help these children.
A lot of times people are inside the train or bus and looking out the window, and I’m walking in and they’re like, “Oh look! It’s Nem!” It’s about new experiences – how you see life, how you go through life without thinking too much about how you get there.
SEE : Chapters 1 to 3 of a morphose stream at pdxcb.com/amorfose. Chapters 4 and 5 will be released in March. $5.