Grupo Folklorico Paulé
NATIONAL/ETHNIC IDENTITY: Puerto Rican
Birthed in Puerto Rico from the convergence of African and Spanish aesthetics, bomba derives its name from the barrel-shaped drum, the bomba, used to accompany this infectiously enthusiastic dance form. Bomba originated amongst African slave communities living on the sugar plantations along the coastal valleys of 18th century Puerto Rico, an island colonized by the Spaniards. The Bailes de Bomba were dances that took place on Sundays to celebrate baptisms, weddings and other special events. Eventually bomba found its place alongside the ocean in the coastal valleys of Puerto Rico as people traveled from one town to another to participate in bomba celebrations.
As resources were limited amongst plantation slaves, the bomba drum was typically made out of empty codfish or rum barrels, and goatskins for the drumhead. The most significant feature in the bomba is the strong interaction between the dancers and the lead drummer, called subidor. The subidor is in charge of executing the various rhythmic patterns and responding to the piquetes, the improvised movements of the dancers.
OF PIECE: Domingo en el Soberao (Sunday
in the Soberao)
CHOREOGRAPHY: Maria Elena Garcia and
Grupo Folclorico Paulé presents several pieces that reflect two distinct styles of bomba. The first two pieces are from Santurce and suggest the Spanish Andalusian influence by the use of the uplifted upper body carriage and fancy footwork. The other pieces show a style from Loiza which contains a stronger African influence, as Loiza was physically isolated from the rest of the island until recently.
The costumes also reflect the bomba's historical legacy. The women's headdress is from the African heritage, whereas the skirts are made in a Spanish colonial style. Bomba dancers typically raise their skirts to reveal their slips. In past times this was a way of ridiculing the proper plantation ladies and their fancy petticoats. The skirt is also used to accentuate certain beats to give cues for the lead drummer.