Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Being a Tourist

Clouds, Fog, Gray, but no Rain!

I decided to pay an exorbitant price to see a folkloric dance show at the 'Casa de la Cultura' today. Many fellow students ahd raved about the 'Jacchigua' (means the infinite joy of the harvest) and claimed it was a 'must see'. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but had seen most of the dances before, both at the Archbishop's palace, which has a free show every Friday night and some Saturday or Sunday afternoons, and at 'La Ronda', a restaurant where we often have our going away dinner for the students, where on certain nights of the week, a demonstration of traditional dance is offered with the meal.

Introduction to the Dance

The Monkey Dance

There were four musicians, who played guitar, drum, an eentsy weensy guitar, and a variety of flutes and recorders. I am always astonished at the contribution of the recorder and the pipes; the sounds are quite amazing. Most of the music was Andean, as were the dances. I have seen dances from the coast before, but none were offered at the show today.

Saraguro Dance

Saraguro Dance

The dancers wore colourful outfits with all sorts of headgear. I found myself interested in the variety of hats again, and will have to check into the ones which were new to me. Many of the hats were white and I was not sure if they were wool or like panama hats. Some had cow spots on the undersides. I was not always sure that the styles of attire were genuine, or at least traditional; many were extravagant. Of course, the Otavaleno/Imbabura style were simpler. It is clearer to me that the 'traditional wear' is a meld of Spanish and indigenous styes and reflect the cultures at the time that the Spanish arrived or later.

Maypole Dance
Feast of St John in Cotopaxi

I was familiar with all the characters in the 'Inti Raimi' dance, which I had seen just a few days before. The maypole showed up in one dance (the feast of St John the Baptist in Cotopaxi) and the patterns beign weaved were intricate and remarkable. There was one dance with scantily clad men adn one women representing deer and the deer hunt. There were several bucks and only one doe, so there was a competition between the males for the female, and the conclusion was quite graphic when the winner mounted the doe.
Inti Raimi
Inti Raimi

The Otavaleno/Imbabura dances were quieter and more restrained, but haunting too in their tenderness and subtlety. One dance started with the Otavaleno women washing clothes in Lake San Pablo, but soon their men come and court them and the dance turns into a love story. There were dances from the Cotopaxi area, Chimborazo, or the Canar. Some dances told stories of oppression of the natives by the conquistadors. It is interesting that the traditional clothes are a mixture of pre-Columbian and Spanish styles, as are the dances.

Corpus Christi/Cotopaxi

I loved watching the feet, which were at eye level for me. The women took small steps, and they moved in unison, using relatively simple steps. The feet all looked so dainty, none of the women stamped or landed heavily. In constrast, the men's steps are bolder and less careful and less coordinated with the other dancers.

Bold Steps

I enjoyed the dancing and the costumes and the music and the energy. I enjoyed my touristy activity throroughly.

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