Book Launch: Dona Ivone Lara’s Sorriso Negro by Mila Burns
More than simply a paragon of Brazilian samba, Dona (Lady) Ivone Lara’s 1981 Sorriso Negro (translated to Black Smile) is an album deeply embedded in the political and social tensions of its time. Released less than two years after the Brazilian military dictatorship approved the Lei de Anistia (the “Opening” that put Brazil on a path toward democratic governance), Sorriso Negro reflects the seminal shifts occurring within Brazilian society as former exiles reinforced notions of civil rights and feminist thought in a nation under the iron hand of a military dictatorship that had been in place since 1964. By looking at one of the most important samba albums ever recorded (and one that also happened to be authored by a black woman), Mila Burns explores the pathbreaking career of Dona Ivone Lara, tracing the ways in which she navigated the tense gender and race relations of the samba universe to ultimately conquer the masculine world of samba composers.
Bethania Gomes is a Brazilian dancer from Rio de Janeiro. At age 13, Gomes started studying under Consuelo Rios at the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theater School. It was during this time that she attended a masterclass with DTH, meeting Arthur Mitchell and solidifying her desire to join the company. In 1988, Gomes temporarily joined the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theater Ballet. She then traveled in 1990 to the United States and auditioned for the Dance Theatre of Harlem School, where she studied before joining the company in 1992 as an apprentice. Gomes was promoted to the rank of soloist in 2001 and principal dancer just one year after, reportedly becoming the “first black Brazilian dancer to reach the highest rank in an international company.” Gomes continued her teaching career with DTH Dancing Through Barriers, teaching at PS 210 and Community Health of the Heights. Gomes works as a dance instructor, ballet coach, and choreographer at DTH.
Paula Abreu, SummerStage’s Director of Programming
Paula Abreu has spent over a decade programming shows and festivals, diversifying bills with a wide range of forward-thinking, international acts. At SummerStage, she is responsible for booking and curating programs focusing on global music and jazz performances. Paula has a commitment to creating change. In 2019, she spearheaded and delivered SummerStage’s gender parity pledge, turning the festival into one of the first in the US to accomplish such critical balance. Before SummerStage, Paula worked at the Red Hot Organization and Lincoln Center, and was inspired to pursue a career in the arts after working on a business project for six months in Angola. She holds a Master’s in Performing Arts Administration from NYU. From Rio de Janeiro, Abreu has been calling NYC home since 2010.
Mila Burns, Lehman College CUNY
Professor Mila Burns is currently working on a book about the Brazilian influence on the Chilean 1973 coup d’état. Based on recently declassified documents from Brazilian and Chilean archives, it looks at how the Brazilian government, diplomats, and exiles perceived Salvador Allende’s “road to socialism” and acted to impact it. Her most recent book, Dona Ivone Lara’s Sorriso Negro (Bloombsbury Academic, 2019 and Editora Cobogó, 2021), investigates Dona Ivone Lara’s album to address broader questions about feminist and black movements in the early 1980s Brazil. At the time, the country’s long-lasting dictatorship was coming to an end and the Brazilian samba composer, a black woman, called for change in her lyrics. Professor Burns’s interdisciplinary profile influences her research, with an emphasis on media, anthropology, and history. For almost two decades, she has been a prominent journalist in Brazil and New York. She is currently the anchor and editor-in-chief of America News, a newscast dedicated to the Latino community broadcast at TV Globo International.
Diana Maron, The Graduate Center – CUNY.
Bachelor in Audio Technology and Phonographic Production (UNESA), Bachelor in Music (UNIRIO), Master in Music (UFRJ), currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Musicology and a certificate in Film Studies at the Graduate Center – CUNY. Her research focuses on Opera & Early Technology, and studies the influence of the rise of audio and video recording technologies on Opera at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century. As parallel (and always complimentary) interests are Brazilian culture and its role in Latin identity, and the role of the arts in the history and politics of South America in the 20th century.