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Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance


Sembrando Herencia 2004
PUERTO RICO EVER AFTER

The History behind the Musical
16th to Early 19th Century


PUERTO RICO EVER AFTER, an original musical written by PRFDance Director Ana Maria Maynard, is about a Prince from a far off land who sails the world in search of his true love and his call in life. In our story, the Prince discovers the island of Puerto Rico, and falls in love with a beautiful mountain cafetal (coffee plantation), the humble and hardworking Jibaros who grew and harvested the coffee, and of course, a sweet, humble mountain girl! Enjoy our historical investigation on 16th to early 19th century Puerto Rican history which we researched to create our story.

16th to Early 19th Century (Relevant Highlights)

Once upon a time in the mountains of Puerto Rico, Jibaros, humble and hardworking mountain people, worked the coffee planations and inland farms of Puerto Rico. The first coffee plant to cross the ocean to the Americas was brought by a French military captain in the 17th century. Along the journey across the wide ocean, the captain kept the little coffee plant alive by sharing his drinking water. Coffee was introduced to Puerto Rico in 1736 from Santo Domingo.

In 1765, the first census of the century revealed that the population on the island had increased sevenfold since the early 1700s and approximately 4600 farms now existed. In the early 19th century, the population increased yet again, attracted by land incentives to settle on the island. In those days, the spanish colony of Puerto Rico was not allowed to trade with anyone but Spain. Years of neglect by Spain to send trade ships encouraged the birth of clandestine trade on the Island. Contraband become the normal means of commerce for Puerto Rico, and coffee was a popular traded item.


At the beginning of the 19th century many immigrants arrived in Puerto Rico from Haiti and Dominican Republic escaping the unrest in Haiti. Other immigrants came from European countries attracted by land incentives offered by the Spanish crown. At this time in Haiti there were many wealthy European, especially French, plantation owners who had slaves. There were also many free persons of color, Blacks, who were wealthy plantation owners and who also owned slaves. Members of this economic elite sent their children to Europe to be educated. At the time of the Haitian unrest and independence struggle in the late 1790's many of these white and black wealthy plantation owners were killed and others lost their land and fled Haiti. The uncertainty of the times and the fear for their lives made many blacks and whites of all social and economic classes flee to Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands.

During this turbulent period in history, Jibaros lived a hardworking but simple life high up in the mountains. They grew and harvested coffee, and survived on the native fruits and vegetables and the meager cash crops they were able to grow. The majority of coffee plantations were small. On these small inland farms, the owners and the jibaros worked together, creating a sense of community with close ties. The coffee harvest season lasted from August to January/February (depending how high up in the mountains you were). Jibaros traditionally celebrated the coffee harvest with joyful music and dance, and lively celebrations that lasted long into the night.

It is in this powerful, historical setting that "Puerto Rico Ever After" takes place. Don't miss this joyful musical!


HISTORICAL REFERENCES:



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For more information:
Dr. Ana Mara Tekina-eir Maynard
Puerto Rican Cultural Center
Cultural Center Address: 701 Tillery Street #13, Austin TX 78702-3738 (Map & Directions)
Mailing Address: 15228 Quiet Pond Court, Austin TX 78728-4555
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