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SF Ethnic Dance Festival
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FESTIVAL DANCERS

Grupo Folclórico Alma Ribatejana

NATIONAL/ETHNIC IDENTITY: Portuguese
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR:
Dorothy Santo
First Appearance in SF EDF:
2005
Website:
www.almaribatejana.com

The rich province of Ribatejo lies upstream from Lisbon along the Tejo River in the central western part of Portugal. Literally meaning, "banks-of-the-Tejo", Ribatejo, while relatively small, boasts an extraordinary concentration of striking architecture and picturesque towns. It is known for its royal castles, serene monasteries and churches, as well as for its famous wines, foods, cowboys and bull-breeding lands. In fact, many consider Ribatejo to be the heart of the Portuguese bull-fighting tradition.

The hardy inhabitants of Ribatejo work predominantly in agriculture. At the end of a days work, music and dance has become a favorite pastime. The daily life chores of wheat harvesting, cattle herding, and horse training are often depicted in their community dance gatherings. Younger workers show off with quick-footed, improvised rhythms.

Grupo Folclórico Alma Ribatejana celebrates the proud dances of Ribatejo, and was founded as a non-profit organization in 2003. Their mission is to promote awareness of Portuguese culture in California and to strengthen the traditions of the past and forward them into the future.

2005 PERFORMANCE

TITLE OF PIECES: Fadinho Passado e Batido, Deixa-te Estar, Meu Amor (Stay Here My Love), Alvorada do Monte (Aurora from the Hillside), Valsa das Saias Rodadas, Bailarico do Ribatejo
CHOREOGRAPHY: Cecilia Maria Aires and Sabrina Costa
DANCERS:
Cecilia Maria Aires, Helen Alves, Monica Barbuzano, Richard Cardadeiro, Sabrina Costa, Maribel Duarte, Victor Fernandes, Florbela Goncalves, Orivalde Lourenco, Andrew Machado, Tony Martinho, Sandra Medeiros, Susan Pereira, Dorothy Santo, Silvio Santo, Manuel Vieira
MUSICAL DIRECTOR:
John Cardadeiro
MUSICIANS:
Cecilia Maria Aires (Flute), Tony Aires (Bilha), John Cardadeiro (Guitar), Mike Costa (Accordian), Olando Costa (Cavaquinho/Mandolin), Manuel Escobar (Guitar), Luis Garcia (Cavaquinho/Mandolin), Max Gracio (Guitar), Loraine Jacinto (Canas), Rui Jacinto (Ferrinhous) Hector Nunes (Viola Baixa/Acoustic bass), Dorothy Santo (Canas), Silvio Santo (Ferrinhos)
PROPS:
Tiago Gomes, Gina Rodrigues

The medley of six dances presented in the 2005 Festival represents a variety of social dances typical of the Ribatejo region. Reminiscent of the opening and closing of a flower, the opening circle dance, Fadinho Passado e Batido, emphasizes precise step patterns. Deixa-te-Estar, Meu Amor, depicting a bittersweet love story is followed by the upbeat Alvorada do Monte, which incorporates fancy footwork. The Ribatejo version of the traditional northern Portuguese dance, Valsa das Saias Rodadas, has a softer, more waltz-like quality.

The fifth dance in the suite, the Fandango Cartaxeiro requires extraordinary control as women dance a top of the alueire, a box used to measure wheat, while balancing wine bottles on their heads. Simultaneously, the men dance with their herding sticks, or varapau, while trying to outdo each other with intricate speedy steps. The group concludes with one of the most characteristic of Portuguese folk dances, Bailarico do Ribatejo. Through quick-footed, rhythmically clever steps, the dancers and musicians exhibit the interplay between music and dance.

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