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Published in the magazine Dana & Cia.

# 22 April/May 2002 Section Brazilian Dance and Popular Culture

June Feasts and Dance Rosana Baptistella <> In the previous article, I specified my intentions concerning this section and briefly wrote about Mato Grosso June Feasts. In this one, I am going to approach the same subject again detailing it a little more. In Mato Grosso towns, these saints - Saint John, Saint Anthony and Saint Peter have their days celebrated in June with dances, chants, prayers, boat processions, bonfires, etc. These celebrations always have a sense of a sacred cult as each of their elements is full of spiritual meanings. By elements I mean gesture, actions, objects, music, etc. In Saint Johns feast, washing the saint by bathing his image in the river represents the biblical passage where John baptises Jesus and vice-versa. The saint is taken in an attitude of respect and devotion to the banks of the closest river where he is washed. Meanwhile, the saints devotees do very special movements with their hands in the water showing the saint they are thankful while renewing their vowel and promises to him. All this is done while they chant Cururu songs - a cultural expression of Mato Grosso that deserves a more detailed approach later on. At the end of the feast, when the fire has turned into ashes and the coal into charcoal, some of the Saints devotees put their faith to test by walking in the ashes. They believe that if you walk with faith, your feet dont burn. Many tributes to Saint Anthony are also paid throughout the State. A particular characteristic of his feast in Santo Antonio do Leverger, a town of Mato Grosso, is the boat procession as a re-enacting of an ancient tale. The story goes that a boat sailed up the river carrying two images of saints. After going on shore overnight in a village, the boat wouldnt float next morning. Then, the men took one of the images from it. As nothing happened, they put it back and did the same with Saint Anthonys one. Surprisingly, the boat floated at once. With that, they concluded that the Saint wanted to stay there and become the patron of that village. The village was renamed to Saint Anthonys Village, and ever since it became a town its called Santo Antonio do Leverger (Saint Anthony of Leverger). Every year, the population of the town honours the Saint in procession of lightened and colourfully decorated canoes and boats, accompanied by fireworks, and Cururu chants from on shore. In Bonsucesso, a fishermen community in Vrzea Grande, the boat procession in honour of Saint Peter, their protector, takes place after the erection of a mast. What do all these have to do with dance? As I wrote in the previous article, the most important thing here is the "wholeness", the inner attitude of the involved persons that permeates every single gesture they do. Although those meanings are non-literal ones because they cannot be expressed through words, they can be expressed through their bodies and movements, and can be understood by whoever shares these moments with them by simply watching their performances.