Video: Portugese percussion sensations be-dom come to Ipswich’s DanceEast

Looking to shift unwanted or broken stuff cluttering up your house? Entertainment writer WAYNE SAVAGE knows a Portugeuse percussive outfit that may be able to help...

Born on the streets, underground performance group be-dom have become a smash hit in their home country.

Part rock concert, part theatre, part comedy, the six-strong group are passionate about recycling. They refashion everything from their own and each other’s bodies, bowls, pillows, cars, car parts, containers, bottles, buckets and computer keyboards into costumes, sceneary and - chiefly - instruments.

“We view ourselves as kind of agents for ecology; we give workshops and raise awareness of recycling and re-utilising objects; that’s very important to us,” says Raul Manarte, performer cum artistic director, cum producer.

“We’re very green, very focused on the environment. We very rarely have to buy anything new and if we see we’re using something that isn’t ecologically friendly we wrack our brains trying to get around it and find another way to use it.”

Friends and family are regular donors to the cause.

“If they don’t like something or something is broke they say just give it to be-dom,” he laughs.

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“We also have an agreement with a big recycling, eco centre here in the north of Portugal. We visit them from time to time; to us it’s like an enormous supermarket of guitars and drums and keyboards - it’s our music store.”

These items play an important part when it comes to putting together show segments, Raul explains.

“Sometimes when a sketch is done there is just one little riff missing; we try to find the best object for it. Sometimes it’s the other way around. We find such a cool object with such a groovy sound or such a great look that we have to make a number to adapt that object or to include it into the scenery.”

The group of friends have been performing for ten years. It started when an amateur group staging theatre in the street, who knew some of them were musicians, asked them to provide percussion while they performed.

“We decided to do the percussion in garbage, I don’t know why, I think it was because it was in the urban setting and that kind of instrument fit the play well,” he remembers.

They never thought of splitting from the play until an important theatre figure in Portugal saw them and thought the musical part could stand on its own.

“We came up with the name be-dom because the first half is the name of the play but the whole name togetherin Portuguese means container and that’s where we started playing, containers.”

Inevitably, be-dom have been compared to Stomp because of their percussive nature. Raul is proud of the comparison but is keen to stress they definitely have their own branding and style.

He says people pick up on the difference their humourous approach makes to the way they connect with audiences. Music-wise they’re going in other directions with more melodies still made out of day to day objects.

The show coming to DanceEast next week is made up of their best work for corporate and social events; a greatest hits if you like.

Despite no real narrative or dialogue - they do make noises with their voices - they’re aware of the dynamics of the whole show and the need for it to make sense.

“The main goal is to be entertaining, constantly surprising and to get you involved. This year we’re trying to incorporate another new element in our show, multi-media interaction.

“We’ve started to bring in some technology but always, always, in an interactive fashion. You’re going to see a bit of that in this show; probably not the full ideas but that’s always the thing with us we’re always adding new things.”

I’m intrigued, but Raul refuses to go into more detail.

“I could tell you, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise,” he laughs. “It’s interactive with the audience, I can tell you that.”

What he will say, however, is those who see the show at Jerwood House, Foundry Lane, Ipswich, from July 12-30 are in for around an hour of great fun and great rhythm.

“I think they will be bouncing on their feet and laughing at the same time. When we’re going to Britain the people ask us a lot ‘how can British people relate to a show so rhythmic like yours, British people are very reserved’?”

We’re not really known for our dancing, I admit.

“We don’t notice any of that,” Raul laughs. “When we’re walking round the streets, yes, we notice a big difference but audience-wise you can be British or you can be Portuguese. I think people will have fun and hopefully they will get to the end of the show and won’t believe what they just did.”

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