Balé Folclórico da Bahia (BFB), the only professional folk dance company in Brazil, was formed in 1988 by Walson Botelho and Ninho Reis and has achieved considerable success in its short history. Under the artistic direction of José Carlos Arandiba, the company’s many national and international tours have earned it a prestigious reputation throughout the country and abroad that is reflected in the response of the public and the critics.The 38-member troupe of dancers, musicians, and singers performs a repertory based on a “Bahian” folkloric dances of African origin and includes slave dances, capoeira (a form of martial arts), samba, and those that celebrate Carnival. The company presents the region’s most important cultural manifestations under a contemporary theatrical vision that reflects its popular origins.
Based in Salvador in the nothern state of Bahia, the Brazilian company made its debut in July 1988, at the Joinville Dance Festival where an audience of 20,000 enthusiastically greeted its performance entitled “Bahia de Todas as Cores” (All Colors of Bahia). The troupe’s immediate success brought invitations to perform at other festivals around the country.At the Bahia International Dance Festival later that year, Balé Folclórico da Bahiawas awarded the prize, “Best Performance of the Year” given by the Ministry of Culture through the National Institute of Dance. In a subsequent tour of the principal capitals of Brazil, sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, the troupe was acclaimed as one of the country’s most important dance companies.In 1989, Balé Folclórico da Bahia gave an uprecedent two-week engagement at Salvador’s Teatro Castro Alves , one of the most important and prestigious theatres in Latin America, followed by a national tour. In 1990, the company received the “Fiat Prize”, awarded by Fiat Industries to the best dance company in Brazil.Balé Folclórico da Bahia made its European debut in 1992 when it participated in Berlin’s Alexander Platz International Festival and drew an audience of 50,000. It’s most prestigious international engagement to date has been a spectacularly successful appearance at the Biennale de la Danse, held in September, 1994, in Lyon, France. From among the cover companies from four continents participating, the “New York Times” commented that this Brazilian company exemplifield the festival’s celebration of African-derived dance. The troupe returned to the Lyon’s festival in 1996 and in 2000, as special guest to perform for the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Maison de la Danse Theatre.Since 1994, as a consequence of its success in Lyon, the troupe has traveled all over the world, performing at the most important theatres, such as City Center, in New York City, Shubert Theater, in Boston, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, in Newark, Zellerbach Hall, in Berkeley, Massey Hall, in Toronto, Sydney Opera House, in Sydney, Teatro da Trindade, in Lisbon, Musik Center Teateeri, in Kuopio, Savoy Teateeri, in Helsik, Parteatern, in Stockholm, Teatret Albertslund, in Copenhagen, and many others.During the 1995-96 tour season, Balé Folclórico da Bahia undertook its first tour of the United States with sold-out performances. The company was a revelation. The 1997, 1998, 2000, 2004, 2007, 2011 and 2013 North American tours, took again the company cost to cost (88 cities in the USA since its first tour), with several presenters rebooking for following seasons.