The Portuguese Ballet Company "Verde Gaio", organised by the National Secretariat for Information (Secretariado Nacional da Informação), was an old dream of António Ferro’s. He was an admirer of the Ballets Russes and thought of calling Francis Graça to be the company’s choreographer. The ballet was entitled " O Muro do Derrete" with Carlos Queiroz, the set and costumes were designed by Paulo Ferreira and the music was by Frederico Freitas. It opened during the festivities which celebrated the eighth anniversary of the Foundation of the Portuguese Nation, on the 8th of November, 1940.

 Capa de programa Verde Gaio.  Autoria de Bernardo Marques

«A company that is different from other ballet companies in that it is characteristically Portuguese, Verde Gaio was formed as if it were an unpretentious poetry anthology, made up of feelings about Portuguese landscape and race, like tears or smiles emerging from nature and from earthy men, the breath of Portuguese soul, of the whole Portuguese landscape that opens like a fan before our eyes, with its freshness and musicality, an orchestra of birds, human voices, rushing waters, tree branches...»

Figurino para Veneziano para o espectáculo 'Festa no jardim', Verde Gaio, 1947.  Autoria de Paulo Ferreira

"Verde Gaio" meeting the soul of Portugal, livening up its lifestyle, espousing the country’s national and artistic character to express its folkloric wealth – although from the beginning there reigns a certain confusion between folklore and Portuguese themes, since subjects like "Inês de Castro" had to be expressed by mimed language or so-called Classical ballet, but never in a language used in folkloric dances.

This is one of the many contradictions that will always surround the "Verde Gaio" company.

Figurino para Carmargo para o bailado 'Festa no jardim', Verde Gaio, 1947.  Autoria de Paulo FerreiraFigurino para Veneziano para o bailado 'Festa no jardim', Verde Gaio, 1947.  Autoria de Paulo Ferreira

The company defined its path in their performance of "weightless dance". This dance that depicted the Lusitanian contemplative gift that makes the Portuguese dream about the sea while looking at the sky or dream of the sky while looking at the sea… Artistic interpreter of ancestral traditions, legends, customs, poetry, music, songs and dances of Lusitania, the Portuguese ballet group "Verde Gaio", served both the art of dance with its performances, as well as being a ballet school. It also took part in the Opera season and contributed for the gradual renewal of the theatrical musical genre, both with their spectacular choreography as well as stage sets that were in excellent taste, and the harmonious way of using stage props and stage decoration.

Fotografia do bailado 'Imagens da terra' e do mar, Verde Gaio, 1943.

Francis Graça, a very gifted ballet dancer who António Ferro presented for the first time to the public in the theatre called Teatro Novo, and who was booed almost every night. He was forced to wear a mask and change his name to continue his career in Portugal. After which he had unparalleled success and became the director of "Verde Gaio", with the valuable cooperation of the German ballet dancer Ruth Walden, who was known to have a good technique.

Fotografia de Francis em 'Dança da menina tonta', Verde Gaio, 1941.Fotografia do bailado 'Festa no jardim', Verde Gaio, 1947

"Verde Gaio" continued to develop under the guidance of a Guilherme Morresi, a ballet master from the Scala in Milan, and of choreographer Ivo Cramer. Later, the prestige of this Portuguese ballet company increased under the artistic and choreographic direction of the ballet teacher Margarida de Abreu and of the ballet dancer Fernando Lima.

Having opened with "Lenda das Amendoeiras", "Inês de Castro" and "Muro de Derrete". It its first tour abroad in 1943, in Spain which, for many reasons, since the war had dominated Europe and given the affinities of the political regimes, was the only country the company was allowed to travel to.

Fotografia de 'Lenda das amendoeiras', Verde Gaio, 1940.Fotografia de Francis no bailado 'Inês de Castro', Verde Gaio, 1940.

During the first ten years, it presented thirty one new ballet with a repertoire that was later enriched by another nineteen works that the critics and the public applauded, thus confirming the international prestige that Verde Gaio had deservedly acquired, as had already recognised by the most important French ballet critic, Emile Vuillermoz.
The "Verde Gaio" ballet company was composed by thirty-two ballet dancers, the artistic and choreographic direction and eleven technicians. During its twenty-six years of existence, it gave performances showing its art, and presented themes depicting the life and soul of the Portuguese people. The company gave hundreds of performances, either in Teatro de São Carlos, or in other more popular theatre, even in castles, royal palaces, monasteries, churches’ atriums, public squares or parks.

Cartaz da apresentação do Verde Gaio em Paris, 1949.Fotografia de Francis, c. de 1925

"Verde Gaio" also went abroad, performing with success in countries like France, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and Brazil.