Capoeira in Palma

Every year in the Summer, one can hear some quick drumming in the centre of Palma, drum beats of what sounds like African rhythm. As one gets nearer to the pulsating throb, one is treated to a street display of Capoeira, performed by a group of tall and muscular young men, including one or more of their members flying through the air in defiance of gravity.

Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art combining elements of dance and music. It was created in Brazil probably at the beginning of the 16th century mainly by descendants of African slaves, including Brazilian native influences. Capoeira is known by quick and complex moves, using mainly power, speed, and leverage for leg sweeps.

The refreshing display may well stir longings for a voyage to the Copacabana, the Ipanema or the Praia da Fazenda, and if not for a journey, then at least for a Brazilian cocktail such as Caipirinha or, yes, Capoeira, a concoction involving sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, Creme de Cacao, cognac and crushed ice, serve in a tiny glass.

Saude.

The photo was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: August 1st, 2012. The time was 13:26:42.

Capoeira in Palma

Fandangos, Jotas and Boleros

When you live in a community and try to be part of it, at least to some extent, it helps if you like what that community is doing. As it happens, I like Mallorcan traditions, their music, folk dance, food, festivities, rituals, customs and celebrations. I particularly like Ball de Bot, a group dance typical of the Illes Balears.

It is said that Ball de Bot came to Mallorca and the neighbouring islands with the conquest, during the 13th century, even though there have been suggestions of a Moorish origin as well. Ball de Bot comes in five categories, all different in speed, beat and formation, such as Fandangos (a sort of courting dance), Jotas, with roots in Aragón, Boleros, Mateixas and Copeos. The Mateixa is a fast-moving dance similar to a Jota and is specifically at home in the Eastern parts of the island, the Llevant de Mallorca, where I live. All Balls de Bot are typically performed in the traditional Mallorcan farmers’ festive outfit (see photo).

Escola de Ball Es Convent, the Ball de Bot dance school in Felanitx, had their Fin de Curso presentation yesterday. The youngest group was made up of three and four-year olds, with the odd two-year old thrown in, and then up in age and rising through groups of school kids, adolescents, young adults and the slightly more mature grown ups. The truly middle-aged adults and even older ones were not performing because they don’t seem to need to learn the Balls any longer. They have all practiced Ball de Bot from an early age, I suppose. One of our daughters danced with one of the groups; she is a young adult in case you want to know.

There are dance schools for Ball de Bot virtually everywhere in Mallorca, should you want to try to learn the art of Fadango et al.

The photo was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Spain. The date: June 3rd, 2012. The time was 19:07:30.

Fandangos, Jotas and Boleros

Dances With Bears

Els Óssos i en Joanet de l’Onso is the name of a group of six infant dancers plus an adult leader who are part of a newly formed folkloric act in Campos, not totally dissimilar to the Cavallets in Felanitx albeit with much less tradition, or rather, none whatsoever, yet. Last Sunday and the Friday before they made their first public appearance ever. The occasion was the Festa de Sant Blai. Sant Blai (Saint Blaise) is the patron of the Oratori de Sant Blai, a rather beautiful chapel from the 15th century not far from Campos. The saint is said to help in cases of throat illnesses. In Mallorca, tradition has it that on this saint’s day (February 3rd), olive oil is first blessed and then offered to the congregation to be applied to their throats as a symbol of blessing and as a protective prevention. This custom is not restricted to Campos; it may have been practiced in a church in your very own pueblo; you can go there next year and find out.

Should you want to attend such ceremony in Campos or indeed, should you want to see the dances with bears, you will have to make your way to the Oratori de Sant Blai on foot, on bike, by horse or by donkey. That is what the tradition wants, in Campos, anyway. Cars and motorbikes are banned.

In case you wondered why there is a bear in the heraldic ways of Campos, I did wonder as well. I asked a friendly police man and was told that it derived from the unstructuring of the name Campos into its parts Camp and Os, meaning something like the bear field. Some linguists seem to disagree with that liberal interpretation, but there you are. The coat of arms of Campos does indeed show a bear, as does the one of Madrid.

The photo was taken near Campos, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: February 5th, 2012. The time was 12:10:56.

Dances With Bears

Sant Honorat and the Cossiers of Algaïda

The patron saint of the village of Algaïda, Sant Honorat (Saint Honorat), is celebrated every year on January 16th. Yesterday, the saint was honoured with a special church service during which the local Cossiers dancers gave an endearing little performance offering their respect and devotion and also, offering a twig of Murta (Myrtus communis, Myrtle) to the priests. After the church service, six or seven ritual dances were performed in the Plaça for the benefit of the populace, and much appreciated they were. If you have not seen the Cossiers of Algaïda you will have missed one of the highlights of Mallorcan traditional customs. The Cossiers also perform at other local Festes, such as the Festes de Sant Jaume in July. See if you can make it; a visit would be worth your while.

The photos were taken in Algaïda, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 16th, 2012. The time was 12:25:43 and 12:37:39, respectively.

Sant Honorat and the Cossiers of Algaïda

Campos and the Re-Animated Cossiers

The village (or is it a town?) of Campos celebrated their Patron Saint yesterday, Sant Julià. Festivities started last Friday, January 6th, and will continue until next Saturday, January 14th. Last night was special in as much as a new troupe of Cossiers danced and performed for the first time after perhaps 100 years. There are Cossiers dancers in other Mallorcan pueblos, such as Alaró, Montuïri, Algaida, Manacor, Pollença, Inca and Palma, as well. Campos used to have Cossiers a long time ago, too, but somehow the tradition got discontinued, until now. I went there and saw the defeat of the Dimoni at the hands of the six male dancers together with their female lead Dama. Neat.

The New Year has started in Mallorca with a number of village and traditional Festes. There were Reyes (the Kings, January 6th), which is celebrated all over Spain. After that, Sant Julià in Campos (January 9th). Next week will see Festes in Algaïda (Sant Honorat, January 16th), before Sant Antoni and his bonfires of Xeremies are celebrated all over Mallorca. Sant Antoni is probably the most typical traditional one of all Mallorcan Festes. Some bonfires will be lit as early as next Friday (January 13th, in Portocolom). Then, Pollença will celebrate Sant Sebastià (January 20th) with a Processó dels Cavallets de Pollença, whilst Sant Sebastià is also the Patron Saint of Palma. There, Festes Patronals (festivities) will be put on between January 14th and 22nd.

The photo was taken in Campos, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: January 9th, 2012. The time was 21:23:15.

Campos and the Re-Animated Cossiers

The Fires de Llucmajor

The Fires de Llucmajor are a pretty big thing here in Mallorca. The Ferias are now in their 465th year, having started way back in 1546. There are four Fires and one Firó, with a whole string of activities from now until October 23rd.

Yesterday, Llucmajor celebrated the Dia de Sant Miquel and the Primera Fira. Sadly, some of the activities during the afternoon were soaked in strong rainfalls.The Segona Fira will be held on Sunday, October 2nd, hopefully in better weather conditions, and the Tercera Fira, on October 9th. The Darrera Fira is scheduled for October 16th, and the Firó, for October 17th. Today, the XI Fira Artesana will be held and tonight, a Rutapa Tapas tour. Saturday, October 8th, the Copa de Mallorca Tir de Fona (stone slinging competition) will be held, as well as a congregation of Ball de Bot troupes from Llucmajor and visiting pueblos. The giants will hold a Trobada gathering and parade on October 9th, to be followed by a Correfoc (firerun). An equestrian presentation is scheduled for October 15th.

A detailed Programa de Ferias 2011 (programme schedule) is available on the Internet. Should you be visiting Llucmajor during this year’s Fires, I would advise you to visit the impressive Claustre de Bonaventura with its spectacular wall paintings and the unique roof tiles exhibition on the first floor. You may have to ask the friendly receptionist to open the exhibition hall for you.

The photo was taken in Llucmajor, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: September 29th, 2011. The time was 14:43:32.

The Fires de Llucmajor

S’Estol d’es Gerricó From Felanitx

Folklore plays a large part in the life of Mallorcan pueblos (villages). Music, dance, language, food, customs, crafts and traditions all form part of a heritage that was nearly extinguished during the dark years of Franco. Some of it has seen a revival since the onset of democracy but, there is still a long way to go. Luckily, some young Mallorcans uphold some of the folkloric traditions and during village fêtes, a majority of locals, young and old, show their appreciation by joining in and participating to keep the customs alive.

Last night, s’Estol d’es Gerricó were performing on the occasion of the Festa de Santa Margalida, one of the two patron saints of Felanitx, the other one being Sant Antoni. S’Estol d’es Gerricó is the name of a folkloric group from Felanitx, singing and dancing popular Mallorcan songs and balls (traditional folk dances). The group has been active since 1964 and is coming up for its fiftieth anniversary any time soon. Last night, hundreds of locals danced vividly to the tunes of Mallorcan ballads as performed by S’Estol d’es Gerricó with a few thousand more enjoying the folklore and spirit by watching others perform. Together, they were all rewarded by a spectacular performance at midnight of a stationary correfoc (fire run), another of the blissful Mallorcan traditions.

The photo (top) was taken in Felanitx, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: July 20th, 2011. The time was 23:41:39. The photo (bottom) shows the s’Estol group in 1964. The image was borrowed from the Internet, courtesy of estol.estoldesgerrico.com.

Moltes gràcies.

S’Estol d’es Gerricó From Felanitx