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Flushing Town Hall brings Brazil to Queens

Music lovers were treated to Flushing Town Hall's "World of Brazil" show last Friday evening. The program showcased the talents of Nego Gato and his troupe of musicians and dancers, who played to a full house.

The event, part of the "Jazz and World Music" series, was produced by noted jazz artist Clyde Bullard for the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts.

Free samba lessons were given in one of the hall's first floor art galleries two hours before the show, with some of the band's drummers providing rhythm for the disciples. The intensely vigorous dance steps rivaled those of a Tai-Bo workout, and everyone came away with flushed, exhilarated faces.

Dinner was available prior to the show, and the auditorium floor was full of club-style tables for two.

Nancy Rodriguez offered a beautiful rendition of the 1960s jazz/samba tune "Iponina," accompanied by Gato's nine-piece band.

Gato played a small drum himself at one point to the accompaniment of Capoeira dancers, practitioners of the African martial arts form first invented by slaves to deceive their masters into thinking they were only performing a fun dance.

A native of Salvador Bahia in Brazil, Gato was trained since childhood in the ritualized movements and ceremonies of Candomble, an Afro-Brazilian religion left largely unchanged by Western influence.

Gato, who gets his name from being proficient in the art form himself, was resplendent in his white satin robe which shimmied with an electric vibration to his tempoed drum playing.

Next, a dance troupe representing six African Bantu gods -a healer, an ocean goddess, nature god, war god, and the most powerful, Shango, god of fire and lightning, performed a fire-swallowing act on stage. Like their ancestors before them, they were accompanied only by powerful drumming.

Later, the drummers "dueled", followed by show-stopping exotic dancers, adorned in their traditional, plumaged Brazilian hats and glittering bikinis. Encouraged to do so, the audience got to their feet and danced with the performers.

Other Jazz and World Music series evens will be Friday March 23, April 6 and 20, and May 11, with live performances by Papo Vasques' "Pirates and Troubadours," the Haitian Tabou Combo, the Weldon Irvine Quartet, as well as a special concert commemorating the life and music of Louis Armstrong, featuring Arvel Shaw and the Louis Armstrong Legacy Band.

Tickets are $15 for members, $20 non-members, and are on sale at the Flushing Town hall box office, open Thursday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 90 minutes prior to events.

Call 463-7700, Ext. 222 to order by credit card, or for specific show dates and information.

Reach reporter Daniel Arimborgo by e-mail at timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.

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