By Lindenberg Junior
Her love and respect for dance and performing arts since when she was a little kid in Brazil have been integrated with her passion to promote the Brazilian culture roots through the dance in U.S, and after several years performing with different groups across America, Jonia McClenney founded Raiz Brazil Dance Company (Roots of Brazil) in one of the Sambala Organization “Carnival Ball” in 2008.
Jonia has born in Recife, one of the top three Brazilian cities with the most strong African influences, and located in Northeast of Brazil. Her grow up in Sao Paulo and moved years ago to Los Angeles to persuade her dreams. Since then, Jonia has performed in every major samba group in L.A area like “The Girls from Ipanema” and “Extravadancers”, and was at the stage to dance with spectacular artists such as Aretha Franklin, Sergio Mendes, Seu Jorge and Bebel Gilberto, and in famous venues such as the Hollywood Bowl (L.A), Disney Hall (L.A), Fox Theater (Detroit), and Caesar’s Palace (Las Vegas) in U.S. With her group Raiz Brazil, she also has performed abroad U.S in Bangkok (Thailand) and in Hunan at the “Changsha International Arts Festival” in China!
Four years ago, Jonia McClenney has started studying “Samba de Gafieira” (Brazilian ballroom dance), and since 2012 also starts performing with her partner as well as teaching for those interested to learn this “samba roots” partnered dance style. “I wanted to make art and entertainment come together exploring the Brazilian rhythms like samba, axe, samba-reggae, frevo and fusing them with other traditional dance techniques like ballet, jazz, modern and hip-hop. I would like to bring fun, sexy and classy entertainment for the public in general that watch me and my group on stage as well as my students during the classes” – said Jonia.
This now mother of two, with a lean body and superior skill to dance any Brazilian style of dance like samba, frevo, maracatu, xaxado or forro, as well latin and modern styles has won some of the most important Brazilian dance contests in Southern California such as the “Queen of the Drums” (“Rainha da Bateria”) of Sambala Samba School of Long Beach and the “Samba no Pe” for the San Diego Brazil Carnival. In 2014 for her extensive participation at the Annual Santa Barbara Brazilian Carnaval, she has received the honor to be elected and wearing the ”Santa Barbara Carnival Queen 2014” sachet in the front line for the “Bloco Carnaval” during the Santa Barbara Summer Solstice Parade 2014 – www.raizbrazil.com.