Duque

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Duque came to Rio when he was very young and decided to be a dentist. Enrolled in the Medicine College of Rio de Janeiro, he received his degree around 1904. He kept an office at Rua Uruguaiana, which…
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Duque came to Rio when he was very young and decided to be a dentist. Enrolled in the Medicine College of Rio de Janeiro, he received his degree around 1904. He kept an office at Rua Uruguaiana, which had no clients. In 1906, he had success as the main role in the comic play Gaspar Cacete. He was a great dancer and a choreographer and also wrote poetry in the Jornal das Famílias, and, as a serious Bohemian, used to party all night long with his camaraderie returning to his office in the morning to sleep. Around 1912, he closed the office for good and went to Paris by ship, realizing a longtime dream. Some historians believe he went there to study classical dance, others that he was sponsored by a pharmaceutic laboratory, and others still who believe he went there for sheer pleasure. There, he sold his return ticket and found a modest job at a travel agency. All the little money earned he spent on room rent, meals, and in the Parisian dancing saloons. But he had a big triumph in his dancing mastery. As the Argentinean tango became a craze in Paris at those times, he decided to teach that dance genre for a living. Coincidently, the widely successful Brazilian dancer Maria Lina came to Paris in the same period. When both of them met in a Montparnasse nightclub, they naturally began to try together the steps of the Brazilian Maxixe, a dance that was severely censored in the elite saloons of Brazil, replete of a wild and rhythmic sensuality. The challenging, virtuosic bodily expression of Maxixe perfectly translated in the gracious movements of the couple, mesmerizing attendants. They were invited to dine with the owner, who hired them to begin the next day as the club's attraction. Always dancing the Maxixe, Duque and Maria Lina went through the best cabarets of the city and Europe. In February 1913, they were awarded with first prize in a dance contest promoted by Elegant Welte at the Admirals Palace (Berlin). In May of that year, Duque presented his the new partner, French actress Arlette Dorgère, but continued to dance with Maria Lina. At that point, Maxixe had taken Paris as a fever. Brazilian music was presented in the best theaters, cafés, and restaurants. "Brejeiro," by Ernesto Nazareth was one of the most requested numbers in the Parisian nightclubs. Duque was no more a dance number, but a director for the big Dancing Palace at Luna Park. At the end of 1913, he found another partner, the French Gaby. But the French musicians couldn't deliver a true Brazilian rhythm and he worked with Brazilian conductor Nicolino Milano (who was in Lisbon, Portugal, enjoying great success). The swinging Brazilian sound captured the Parisian soul even further, but at that point, Duque was fusing several different Brazilian dances in his number, which already presented a diluted, stylized performance more adapted to European tastes. With a winning formula, he performed at the Olympia, in the Alhambra, at the London Hippodrome, at the Théâtre des Capucines, at the Alcazar d'Été, and at the New York Palace (for 15,000 francs a month).

At the end of 1915, he went to Buenos Aires for a highly successful tour; he also opened the Teatro Florida for Gaby, performing there until heading for Montevideo. After three nights performing at the local casino, the duo returned to Buenos Aires where they took to the Teatro Nuevo as the preferred stage for several nights, also presenting themselves at the opening of the Parc Hotel. Both of them went back to Rio, arriving on January 26, 1916. Continuing to dance professionally, Duque opened a dance academy, returning to Paris soon after that for a short trip. Again in Brazil, Duque and Gaby were featured in the film Entre a Arte e o Amor, which opened in Paris in 1918. In 1917, Duque also took part in the film Fuerza y Nobleza. In 1921, he returned to Paris to participate in a dance contest. In 1922, he was again in Brazil, dancing in the high-class cabaret Assírio, accompanied by Pixinguinha's Os Oito Batutas. It was then when he convinced Brazilian millionaire Arnaldo Guinle to sponsor the Batutas in Paris on a cultural mission to spread Brazilian music there. The season at the Scheherazade nightclub, crowded with success, produced several changes in Pixinguinha's music due to the close contact with jazz bands, and upon their return, the Oito Batutas changed the instrumentation of the choro regional with jazz instruments. With the end of World War I, American music took the scene and expelled Maxixe from the picture. Duque lost his popularity and dedicated himself to theatrical critique and playwriting. As a lyricist, he wrote "Os Batutas" (w/Pixinguinha and China, Pixinguinha's brother) and "O Cachorro da Mulata" (w/China). With Sebastião Cirino, he wrote the highly successful Maxixe "Cristo Nasceu na Bahia," which was presented at the play Tudo Preto, and was a big hit at the Carnival of 1927, remaining as a several times recorded classic of Brazilian popular music. Francisco Alves recorded in 1927 two Duque tunes, the march "Albertina" and the samba "Passarinho do Má," on the first Brazilian electric record. In 1930, the samba "Sarambá" (with J. Tomás) was also a hit. In 1932, Duque realized an old dream with the Casa de Caboclo at the Praça Tiradentes, Rio. The place was dedicated to Brazilian folklore and traditions. The stable attractions were Pixinguinha (with a small regional) and the caipira (redneck) duo Jararaca e Ratinho, with other artists invited as special guests. Dercy Gonçalves was one of the revelations of the Casa de Caboclo. The place was destroyed by a fire, but was so successful that it readily re-opened at the Teatro Fênix. In 1939, Duque was appointed as director of the prestigious Cassino Atlântico, where he remained until 1942 when he dedicated himself exclusively to theater until the end of his life.