Interview: Pamela Stephenson Connolly on bringing dance show Brazouka to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

This article is from 2014

Interview: Pamela Stephenson Connolly on bringing dance show Brazouka to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

credit: Johnny van Bergen

Brazouka uses dance lambazouk and other Brazilian dances to tell life story of dancer Braz Dos Santos

Lucy Ribchester talks to former Strictly star Pamela Stephenson Connolly about the Brazilian dance craze which got her back on the floor

While the world’s eyes have recently been fixed on Brazil’s football stadiums, a troupe of that nation’s dancers are limbering up to showcase a different kind of intricate footwork in Edinburgh. Brazilian dance show Brazouka, written and lead-produced by Pamela Stephenson Connolly, makes its world premiere at this year’s Fringe, weaving together lambazouk – lambada dance and zouk music – and other African-Brazilian dance styles to tell the life story of dancer Braz Dos Santos.

Braz and his brother Didi were talentspotted at an early age dancing in flip-flops in a Porto Seguro bar, before being invited to Paris to join French-Brazilian pop group Kaoma, who achieved fame in the 80s with the hit single ‘Lambada’. The show came about after Stephenson Connolly reignited her passion for dance while appearing on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. Following that show, the actress, writer and clinical psychologist began looking around for different dances to enjoy.

‘I first found my way to Argentine tango,’ she says, ‘but ended up rather disappointed with the rules and style of the milongas [dance parties] which I felt marginalised women by forcing them to sit around and wait until being invited to dance by men. I’m not that kind of girl, so when I discovered lambazouk and a social environment where I could boldly invite men to dance, I was much happier.’

Being immersed in the lambazouk scene, it was only a matter of time before she met Dos Santos. ‘I was told to seek him out and after just a few lessons I was hooked. He is a master of the dance. When I heard the extraordinary story of how he and his brother emerged from extremely humble beginnings, I knew we could both touch audiences and thrill them with a new, incredible dance language.’

Brazouka, Assembly Hall, Mound Place, 0131 623 3030, 2–25 Aug (not 11, 18), 5.30pm, £18–£19 (£15–£16). Previews 31 Jul & 1 Aug, £12.

Webisode 1, Making of BRAZOUKA-The dancers arrive in GOZO


  • 4 stars

Brazouka UK The World Premiere of Braz Dos Santos' extraordinary true story from the toughest streets of Brazil. Sixteen dazzling dancers take audiences on a breathtaking journey of intense passion, sizzling sensuality, pulsing music and explosive energy. This unique dance drama is performed by Brazil's most thrilling new…