Thursday, June 17, 2010
"Pasion Criolla" from Dominican Republic puts everyone in the mood for exciting merengue
By Nancy T. Lu
From the Dominican Republic, the land of merengue in the Caribbean, came Ballet Folklorico Nacional Dominicano, sweeping spectators into a lively and fast-paced world of music and dance.
The exotic land which would normally require travelers from Taiwan at least 20 flight hours to reach (not counting the time spent while in transit) was there for everyone to experience.
The country in the Caribbean first reached by explorer Christopher Columbus in 1492 went through 300 years of Spanish colonization (including evangelization) with French and Haitian interludes. This historical background somehow came to light in the entertaining program presented at the National Taiwan Art Education Center on Nanhai Road in Taipei on June 17. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also arranged to have the group shine on stages at the National Center for Traditional Arts in Yilan on June 16, at the National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaohsiung on June 18 and at the Taichung Fulfillment Amphitheater on June 19.
Spanish and African influences lent themselves to the exciting and truly colorful cultural performance in "Pasion Criolla". A trio called pri pri made music with a small drum, an accordion and guira (gourd scraped with a stick). Percussion instruments later included palos, atabales and congos. Passion kept building to a new high.
The graceful dancers dressed in folk costumes (even in the patriotic flag colors of red, white and blue in one number) introduced very sensual merengue moves. The men were there to respond with grace, too.
Footwork sometimes seemed to be a takeoff from the hot Spanish flamenco. Hips swiveled and shoulders shook in the limelight. Skirts billowed and swirled to create quite a spectacle. The carnival spirit was in the air. Revelers were invited to take off their masks in Carnaval “Saca Tu Careta.”
Ileana Reynoso rendered Spanish songs in a powerful voice, moving listeners with classic Latin-style expression of love and romance.
One of the dance numbers paid tribute to the late dance company founder Fradique Lizardo. A piece of modern dance choreography performed to familiar Taiwanese song “Ali Mountain High” conveyed the Dominican Republic’s wish for long-lasting friendship with Taiwan.
The dancers and musicians representing a multi-racial population (90 percent with West African ancestry of varying degrees) proved themselves to be extremely successful ambassadors of goodwill.
Josefina Minino de Molina, whose dance career spans 50 years, beamed with pride when she as artistic director appeared with her dance company from the Dominican Republic, an ally of Taiwan, on the stage for the final curtain call.
All the pictures shown here were taken by Nancy T. Lu.