This October the Pomba Girls reunited to host another riotous night of live performance in celebration of one of their favorite festive occasions - Halloween! This time around they took possession of The Stag’s Head Hoxton by hosting a Pomba Girl Party that intended to “Unleashing The Spirits of Darkness down the East End!” As ever the night did not disappoint and the party spirit was let loose with everything from fiendish trick ‘n’ treats to a Rocky Horror piano sing-along and not forgetting the Pomba Girl performance that kept us dancing from dusk till dawn!
The parties success was no surprise to The Pomba Girls- our collective of performers who a few weeks prior to the event embarked upon on a journey of vigorous performer training and creative experiments that enables them to unlock their inner spirits and prepare their party ‘ritual’. To give homage to their efforts we shall be sharing across the blog 4 key stages they took along the journey.
Stage 1: Preparation
For our preparation as performers it was necessary to delve once again into the roots of Umbanda ritual practices- a region hailing from Rio de Janeiro from where we Pomba Girls derive our inspiration. We focused our attention as performers on the “Pomba Gira” - a dark spirit who is seen to embody the notion of a ‘transgressive female’, aligning herself with figures such as prostitutes, enchantresses and gypsies.
During the original Umbanda rituals she enters the body of initiated member belonging to the religion and embodies the spirit through her ‘performance’ in which she dances, drinks and cavorts with guests. Our collective use the inspiration of the Umbanda Pomba Gira to inject the ‘spirit’ into our Pomba Girl Parties by transposing her character into different female icons that are aligned with our own popular culture and event theme. To enable us to discover their characters we commit to a series of rehearsal experimenting with some of the physical theatre techniques I encountered during my performer training in Rio de Janeiro with Brazilian street theatre company Tá´Na Rua under the direction of Amir Haddad.
Our Pomba Girl Halloween personas ranged from a Victorian/ Gothic take on the original Pomba Gira spirit (myself), a seductive lycra bound serpent (Sandra), a corset busting Madonna bride (Hannah) and extra scary adaptation of Pomba Girl “Cassandra” from our notorious gender transgressor (Gur). Once each of us had discovered our inner Pomba Girls our next challenge was to explore how they could transform into them during the performance in a way that would evoke the idea of spiritual possession played out in original Umbanda rituals.
Emma Symes (Pomba Girl)
Stag tuned for Step 2 “Initiation” - coming soon!