“…their daring gestures drew gasps from the audience”

– Dayton Daily News

“…color, clamor and captivation are the order of the day.”

– Santa Fe New Mexican

The US-based Ologundê ensemble celebrates the rich Afro-Brazilian culture of Salvador, Bahia through a diverse repertoire of music, dance and martial arts. Comprised of Brazilians living in the United States and Brazil, the ensemble includes former members of world-renowned music and dance troupes and is under the direction of master Afro-Brazilian percussionist Dendê Macêdo. The ensemble has performed throughout the US since its formation in 2002 and toured Greece as part of the Cultural Olympiad, appearing at the Kalamata Dance Festival and at the Athens Festival at the Acropolis.

The group which ranges from 8-15 members, performs a diverse repertoire which includes the rituals associated with candomblé, a synthesis of the Yoruba and Catholic religions in which various orixás (gods) are invoked; the breathtaking capoeira martial arts dance; maculêlê, a warrior dance which utilizes sticks and machetes and was originally created in the sugar cane fields by slaves; and the exhilarating samba de roda, which can be traced back to the semba of Angola. Its performances can be tailored to fit a specific venue or event.

Candomblé is a syncretic Afro-Brazilian religion that evolved as a means by which the African slaves were able to disguise their religious traditions under the banner of Catholicism. As with Cuban lucumi and Haitian vodun, Africans transposed the names of their deities, known as orixás into those of Catholic saints. The ritual is performed by drummers who play the sacred atabaque drums with rhythms that invoke the orixás. The dancers dress in elaborate costumes that represent the various orixás who have possessed them.

This dance originated in the sugar cane fields. Utilizing sticks and machetes (sharp, large knives), maculêlê imitates the movements of cutting cane. It is intricately choreographed to a specific dance rhythm. Today maculêlê is strictly used for entertainment, but during the Paraguayan war the discipline was used in battle.

Like maculêlê, capoeira is a warrior dance. This exciting martialarts dance,thought to have originated in Angola, is accompanied by the berimbau (a one-string bow with a small gourd attached) that is found in various guises throughout Central Africa. It is performed by two people at a time who use various strategies in order to trick their opponent. Capoeiristas employ acrobatic movements and extraordinary feats of strength and balance to further enhance their performance in addition to theberimbau, various percussive instruments are used as well as call and response singing.

Samba de Roda
Samba de Roda is a spontaneous dance that is characteristic of the city of Bahia. The call and response singing recalls its African roots and it can be traced to the semba of Angola in which the dancers “bump” bellies. In Brazil, this belly-bumping is called umbigada. A dancer enters the roda (circle) to dance only when he/she received an umbigada from the previous dancer.