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Puerto Rico, V.I. Roots Move Onstage at Island Center

Sept. 30, 2007 — More than 700 people attended free performances by the Guateque Folkloric Ballet de Puerto Rico and the St. Croix Heritage Dancers at Island Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday night.
The dance performances with their theme of "Shared Roots" succeeded in getting residents in the mood for Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Celebration 2007, as some audience members danced in the aisles and others danced at the top of the hill in the area around the concession stands.
"It was wonderful seeing the two cultures come together," said Michelle Thurlan-Martinez." I could see the similarities with the dances and knew we are all one."
The Puerto Rican dance company has performed at the Island Center the past two years. It had an African roots focus in 2005 and a Spanish roots focus last year. This year the first half of the performance had dances based on the Taino and Arawak Indian roots of Virgin Island and Puerto Rican cultures.
The show began with the ballet company in a dance depicting daily life of the Tainos. The dancers were in native Indian costumes and headdresses playing a ball game using all parts of their body except their hands. The dancers then portrayed the planting of crops, making jewelry and pottery. Next the dancers came on the stage as Spanish conquistadors who took everything, including the Taino women. They left nothing for the Indians. In the third dance scene the Indians are crying for their freedom and want to know where their land has gone.
Before intermission, four couples from the St. Croix Heritage dancers, dressed in white, danced six quadrilles to the accompaniment of the Native Rhythms Band. The ballet company then did a minuet from colonial times dressed in velvet, lace and tri-cornered hats.
Dancing next were ten quadrille couples in orange, green, red and yellow madras shirts and dresses. Then to show solidarity, the eight colonial couples changed partners and danced the quadrille with the native Virgin Islanders.
While the dancers took a breather and changed costumes tokens of friendship were exchanged between the ballet company and the heritage dancers. Receiving the gifts for the ballet company was Joaquin Nieves Caldero, the artistic director, choreographer, and costume designer.
"We will work diligently to carry the St. Croix dancers to Puerto Rico," said Vera Falu, V.I.- P.R. friendship committee president.
After the intermission, dancers representing the Three Kings on horseback brought laughs from the audience. The Three Kings celebration takes place on January 6 and is integral to Puerto Rican folklore.
The dancers then paid homage to Latin American and Caribbean cultures with traditional dances from various islands and countries.
In colorful costumes matching the culture of each country, Guateque did a waltz from Venezuela, a Panamanian dance, a merengue from the Dominican Republic, a dance of love of Ecuador and a high-stepping Mexican dance. A highlight was the traditional Colombian cumbia danced by a woman in a long, pleated and gathered white dress.
But the dance that got the crowd moving the most, not surprisingly, was that gift of Puerto Rico to the worlds of music and dance, the salsa.
The show wrapped up with the fun of the Puerto Rican carnival dancers in gigantic heads and 12-foot-tall characters dancing in the isles.
The Virgin Islands celebrates V.I. – P.R. Friendship Day on Columbus Day each year. The holiday was created in the early 60s and enacted into law by the legislature in 1964.
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Sept. 30, 2007 -- More than 700 people attended free performances by the Guateque Folkloric Ballet de Puerto Rico and the St. Croix Heritage Dancers at Island Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday night.
The dance performances with their theme of "Shared Roots" succeeded in getting residents in the mood for Virgin Islands-Puerto Rico Friendship Celebration 2007, as some audience members danced in the aisles and others danced at the top of the hill in the area around the concession stands.
"It was wonderful seeing the two cultures come together," said Michelle Thurlan-Martinez." I could see the similarities with the dances and knew we are all one."
The Puerto Rican dance company has performed at the Island Center the past two years. It had an African roots focus in 2005 and a Spanish roots focus last year. This year the first half of the performance had dances based on the Taino and Arawak Indian roots of Virgin Island and Puerto Rican cultures.
The show began with the ballet company in a dance depicting daily life of the Tainos. The dancers were in native Indian costumes and headdresses playing a ball game using all parts of their body except their hands. The dancers then portrayed the planting of crops, making jewelry and pottery. Next the dancers came on the stage as Spanish conquistadors who took everything, including the Taino women. They left nothing for the Indians. In the third dance scene the Indians are crying for their freedom and want to know where their land has gone.
Before intermission, four couples from the St. Croix Heritage dancers, dressed in white, danced six quadrilles to the accompaniment of the Native Rhythms Band. The ballet company then did a minuet from colonial times dressed in velvet, lace and tri-cornered hats.
Dancing next were ten quadrille couples in orange, green, red and yellow madras shirts and dresses. Then to show solidarity, the eight colonial couples changed partners and danced the quadrille with the native Virgin Islanders.
While the dancers took a breather and changed costumes tokens of friendship were exchanged between the ballet company and the heritage dancers. Receiving the gifts for the ballet company was Joaquin Nieves Caldero, the artistic director, choreographer, and costume designer.
"We will work diligently to carry the St. Croix dancers to Puerto Rico," said Vera Falu, V.I.- P.R. friendship committee president.
After the intermission, dancers representing the Three Kings on horseback brought laughs from the audience. The Three Kings celebration takes place on January 6 and is integral to Puerto Rican folklore.
The dancers then paid homage to Latin American and Caribbean cultures with traditional dances from various islands and countries.
In colorful costumes matching the culture of each country, Guateque did a waltz from Venezuela, a Panamanian dance, a merengue from the Dominican Republic, a dance of love of Ecuador and a high-stepping Mexican dance. A highlight was the traditional Colombian cumbia danced by a woman in a long, pleated and gathered white dress.
But the dance that got the crowd moving the most, not surprisingly, was that gift of Puerto Rico to the worlds of music and dance, the salsa.
The show wrapped up with the fun of the Puerto Rican carnival dancers in gigantic heads and 12-foot-tall characters dancing in the isles.
The Virgin Islands celebrates V.I. - P.R. Friendship Day on Columbus Day each year. The holiday was created in the early 60s and enacted into law by the legislature in 1964.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.