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Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance

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Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance

Guillermo Nolasco and China Smith
Guillermo Nolasco and China Smith
Photo by Ha Lam/For AA-S

By Michael Barnes
American-Statesman Arts Writer

Posted: Jan. 20, 2000

CULTURAL BACKGROUND: Ana Maria Maynard, Austin's goddess of Puerto Rican dance, discerns three main traditions. The bomba derives directly from African slaves imported in the 1600s. The plena is more urban, and grew up after the abolition of slavery in the 1900s. A third lineage, seis, is from mountain peasants, whose dances can be traced to the 1700s.

COSTUMES: Bomba: The woman is in a white dress with turban and slip with ruffles, the man in white pants and shirt, with panama hat and hard shoes (or barefoot). Plena: Women are attired in knee-length dress, decorated with fabric or real flowers, with bright taffeta flounces underneath; men in black pants, with white shirt, suspenders and hat. Seis: Women in full, solid-color dresses, lots of jewelry, heeled "character" shoes; men in white shirt and pants, sash, handkerchief, pava hat (beachcomber) and, especially, a machete, used dramatically in the dance.

MUSIC: Bomba: Drums with singing and chanting. Plena: Hand-held drums, trumpets or other brass. Seis: Uses the cuatro, a stringed guitar-like instrument, and a guiro, making a scratchy sound, and bongos.

STEPS: Bomba: Free-style, with women shaking skirts, communicating with the drummer by the height of the skirt, hips shaking while weight changes; men turn, also shaking hips, while stamping in a staccato manner. Plena: Employs the basic step-close-step-close step, with bouncy, side-to-side changes of weight while partnering. Seis: Women employ more delicate sliding steps; men hold their bodies erect, with proud aspect and hands held behind their backs.

CONTACT: Ana Maria Maynard, 251-8122.

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When: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 27-28; 1:30 and 7:30 p.m., Jan. 29; 1:30 p.m., Jan. 30
Where: Texas School for the Deaf Auditorium, 1102 S. Congress Ave.
How much: $8-$12 (DanceFest pass, $30)
Info: 454-TIXS
More: Lectures and master classes associated with DanceFest are at Cafe Dance, 3307 Hancock Drive, on Saturday and Sunday. Call 451-8066 for information.

Local Groups
Austin Scottish Country Dance Society
More culture and arts groups

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