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Lucile Armstrong

Lucile Armstrong

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Published by ViolinSantaCatalina

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: ViolinSantaCatalina on Mar 24, 2010
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08/25/2014

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TheVerdialesFestivalinMálaga(Spain)December28th1971
by
LUCILEARMSTRONG
1firstheardof'TheVerdiales'asadanceabouttwentyyearsago.AprofessionalSpanishDancer,AgueditaSarasua,taughtitanddanceditonthestage.Herdresswasgreenwithwhitestripes,withtwofrillsatthebottomandagreenbandundereachfrill,puffedsleeveswithafrillandaplaingreenfichu.Thissurprisedme,forgreenisnotafavouritecolouramongpeasantpeopleinsouthernSpain;thoughinnorthernregionsofthePeninsulaitisanacceptedcolourforskirts,it'bringsbadluck'intheSouth,andtheVerdialeshadadistinctlysouthernflavour.Thisdressmademewonder.Astimeproved,itwasacorrectfolkcostume.Noonecouldsaywherethedancecarnefromorprovideanyinformationaboutit.Itsformationmademesuspectittoberitual.Ittooksomefifteenyearsofresearchtofindoutthat
Verdiales
isthenameofatypeofolivewithapointedend,whichisa110wedtoripen
-
thatis,blacken
-
beforegatheting.Thetreewhichbearsitisa110wedtoreachitsfu11height.WhentheVerdialesolivesareripethebranchesarebeatenwithverylong,flexiblerodstobringthefruitdown.Itisthenpickedupandsweptintota11basketsandtakentotheoil-pressesforprocessing.AmongstotherplacesinsouthernSpain,theVerdialesolivesgrowa11aboutthebrokencountryaroundMálaga,rightupintothesierras,whereeachvillagehasitsownfestivedays,regionalcostumeandagroupoflocalmusiciansca11eda
panda.
A
panda
isabandofmusiciansinritualcostumewhoperformharvestthanksgivingwithritualdance,songandmusic.Vi>toaboutthenineteen-forties,theVerdialeswasdancedbyritualmenonly,but~incethen,whenitbecamethefashionfortowns-peopletodancefolkdances,girlshavebeenadmittedinthedance,andnowappeartohavetakenovermostofthedancing.Howeverthe
pand.as
arestillritualmen'sperformancesandin1950theVerdialescompetitionattheinnca11ed
VentadelTunel
x
 
THEVERDIALESFESTIVALINMÁLAGA
isreputedtohavebeeninstitutedonthe28thDecember,whentheMayorofMálagagoesuptheretodistributeprizestothewinners.Someeightyearsago,itwassaid,thiscompetitionwaslittleknownexceptbythe
pandas.
Sincethenithasbeenorganised'fortourists'.ButacompetitionbetweenvilIagesissaidtohaveexistedlongbeforethat.
1decidedtogoandseethisfestivalin
1971
andarrivedin
Málagafourdaysbeforethetimetoascertainexactdetailsastohour,placeandtransportoInformationwasveryhardtoget.TheheadoftheDanceSectionattheSecciónFemenína(anofficialbodyofwomenwhoarestate-supportedandhave,amongstotherduties,thetaskofinvestigatingandpreservinglocalfolkdances),toldmeitstartedat4-p.m.on28thDecember.Butwhen1arrivedat3.30p.m.theplacewasalreadycrowdedtooverflowing.Ithadstartedinthemorning.Abusgoesalongtheriver
GuadalMedina
('riverofthecity',inArabic)upthehilIsafewkilometersfromMálagatoanewdam,andwhereawideroadisbeingbuilttoconnectMálagawithRonda.Highupintheopenfieldsoutinbrokencountryontheslopesofthesierras,aboutamilebeyondthedam,isabendoftheriverwithaflatpromontory.Therethe
VentadelTunel
wasbustlingandthrongedwithpeopleonthisonedayoftheyear.Therailwaybridgepassedtherivergorgethere,andtheoldroadwentthroughtherailwaytunnel,hencethenameoftheinn.The
VentadelTunel
wasaninternationalmeetingplacewithcloselypackedcrowdsthatday.Therewasnoroomtositorrest;eventheover-hangingcliff-topswerethicklylinedwithspectators,andthenarrowwindingroadoneithersideofthe
Venta
he1dthreerowsofstationarycars.Movingtraffichadhardlyroomtocrawlthrough,andwasindangerofedgingtheparkedvehiclesintothegorge.Acoachtriedtomakeitswayupbutsucceededinbringinga11traffictoacompletestandstilI.Itseemedwisertowa1k.Crowdscontinuedtoarrivealongthenarrowroadandacrossthefields,a11jostlingoneanother,shoutingande1bowingtheirwaythroughtheseeminglysolidwallofhumanity.Themembersofthe
pandas
carriedtheirowninstrumentswhilethesupportersbroughtbasketsoffood.Drinkwasfoundatthe
venta.
Anyadmirerofa
panda
wouldbuyabottleofwineorspirits,andpresentittothegroup,withastrawthroughthecork,andin330
 
THEVERDIALESFESTIVALINMÁLAGA
returnwouldexpecttohaveverdialesplayedforhim
-
afterduerefreshment.Thebottlewaspassedfromhandtohand,thenatasignfromtheleadertheystruckup.Eachsonglastedsomethreetofourminutes,thenafteraresttheystartedagainhoweverclosetheymightbetothenext
panda.
Thiswassometimesaslittleastwoyardsawayandattimesfiveorsix
pandas
couldbeheardatonce!A
panda
ismadeupofaleader,aflag-bearerandtheinstru-mentalistswhomayalsosing.Theleaderheldarodofoffice,entwinedwithcolouredribbonswithatuftofthematthetipoTheflag-bearercarriedtheflagofhis
panda
highabovethecrowdasarallyingpointfor.
panda
membersandsupporters;theflagsdifferedinsizeanddesignoThechiefinstrumentwasthe
pandero
-
averylarge,roundtambourinesomeeighteentotwentyinchesindiameter.Twoguitarswereusualforaccompanyingwithsimplechords;aviolinneverfailed;andtwomenplaying
platillos-
'littleplat~s'inname,butinrealitysmallbrasscymbals.Some
pandas
hada
bandúrria
andoneguitar.Theleadermightrequireanyoneofhisgrouptosingaverseortwo,butunlesshemadeasigntherewasnosinging,buttheinstrumentalistsmightplayathiscommand.Atacallfromtheleaderthemembersofa
panda
disposedthem-selvesinatightring,facingeachother;astherewasnoconductortheyhadtolookatoneanotherallthetime,andthisarrangementmadethatsimple.Thentheystruckupatasignaloftheleader'srod.Thetwo
platillos-players,
situatedonoppositesidesofthering,watchedeachotherandplayedinperfecttime,comple-mentingeachother'sbeats.Thetimingwasgenerallyexcellentwithina
panda.
IndeedIcouldnotdistinguishany
panda
asbeingbetterthananyotherinmatteroftiming,rhythmorqualityofperformance.Thesemenbecamecompletelyabsorbedintheirmusic,andthepushingandthenudging,theshoutingandtheclamouringofthecrowdsleftthemindifferenttoeverythingaroundthemfor,unitedinspirit,theybelongedtoanotherworld.The
pandas
werejudgedbyapanelofofficialjudgeswhosatintheopen
-
exposedtothesameamountofnoiseasthecrowd.Howtheyacquittedthemselvesoftheirtaskwasdifficulttounder-stand.Severalself-appointed'helps'advisedthemtoo.Perhapsthewordswereregardedasthemoreimportantpartofthesongs331

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