Grupo Folclórico Alma Ribatejana
NATIONAL/ETHNIC IDENTITY: Portuguese
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.
TITLE OF PIECES: Fadinho Passado e Batido, Deixa-te Estar,
Meu Amor (Stay
Here My Love), Alvorada do Monte (Aurora from
Valsa das Saias
Rodadas, Bailarico do Ribatejo
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.