Monday, July 16, 2018

Braga Romana and Belly Dancing


A popular feature at the Braga Romana Festival is the belly dancing.  Last          
year when we went, we only saw one group                             perform. This year there was another group as well, a pair of dancers and two musicians. The first picture to the left is of the group we saw last year, Radiki, led by a cousin of the fadista (fado singer), Marisa da Rocha, we've been privileged to know. They danced to recorded music. The second picture is of the pair of belly dancers and their two musicians. They first danced solo and then danced together. We didn't see them last year, but then, so much was going on, we may have just missed them. Sadly, we didn't get their names. 

You might wonder at a connection between ancient Rome and belly-dancing. Well, it is thought belly-dancing (sometimes called "torso dancing") originated in Egypt, which was part of the Roman Empire, and spread to places like Turkey and Greece, also part of the Empire. So it merits inclusion in this wonderful festival, both historically, and for its beauty as an art form.  

It has an interesting history as depicting childbirth and being instructive for mothers-to-be rather than the rather provocative associations given it in cafes where patrons tuck money into a dancers bra. Here is a YouTube showing the beauty of this form of dance. This particular group is called Raksat Brazil, and they are performing in Dubai.

We were struck by how creative and graceful the performances we saw in Braga were. Enjoy the pictures below — first by Radiki, and then by the paired dancers. Each choreography was so unique, and again, so graceful:

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And then the other stage. 
First the lady in blue: 

Then the lady in red:

Then the two together:

 Don't you just love the costumes? And the use of the scarves?

Have you ever seen belly dancing? Do you enjoy dance performances? Modern? Ballet? Bollywood or the old Hollywood musicals? Hip Hop? Have you ever taken special dance lessons?

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Roman Dancing Maidens at Braga Romana

As I mentioned in the earlier post about the military camp enactment, there were many performances going on all over the historic district (the main tourist center) in Braga. Many of them were dance performances. We especially liked this one: a beautifully choreographed dance in several sequences by four "Roman" maidens.

The dancing was accompanied by haunting music performed by three musicians who sang and played special instruments. The group's name is Dorahoag, and here is a YouTube site where you can hear the three men of the group play a very similar sounding piece of music. They create their own music in fusion with other music. Really wonderful.

Here you see two of the men from Dorahoag with a woman who is playing an instrument that — sadly — I can't name:

And then the marvelous dancers! You can see such grace in all their movements:

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There were other dance performances by belly dancers, which I will share in a later post.

How about you? Do you like dance performances? Do you like music that fuses more than one genre? What is your favorite music?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Braga Romana Displays — The Military Encampment.

 A month has slipped by since our return from our trip on June 4th. I did get in one post here and another at my Victorian Scribbles blog next door,  just before we left. But on arrival, the election was the very next day here in California. Then my husband had cataract surgery — which turned out well. Then there was gardening to catch up on (pesky weeds); and much of my time has been taken with political matters (I'll be marching this coming Saturday to protest the breaking up of families at the border.)

Still, our trip to Braga, Portugal was filled with spectacular events, and I don't want it to get lost in the busy-ness of life. See the picture of the Roman soldier to the left? There is a four-day festival each year toward the end of May, celebrating Braga's Roman past. It's called Braga Romana, and the whole city turns out in costume, including a children's parade that kicks off the celebration with students of all ages. Performances are held at various sites. Tents and kiosks display arts and crafts, mostly in keeping with Braga's Roman and Celtic past.

The soldier above was posted at one side of a re-created military encampment in the Largo do Paço, a plaza surrounded on three sides by wings of the former Archbishop's Palace. (Paço means palace, and the building now houses books and archives for the University of Minho.) This largo was the perfect site for the "encampment." Here is a better view of the false "entrance":

Before we went entered, outside the gate, two men were demonstrating the way rope was made in ancient times.


Once inside, there were areas with people working the old crafts: weaving, carving utensils, blacksmithing, etc. And something was supposedly cooking in that dangling pot:

         Meanwhile, we became intrigued by how soldiers and visitors were looking at one particular tent:
Even standing guard at one time. What was inside that tent? All kinds of wonders.

              Remember I said this site was perfect for the encampment? Well drapes transformed the arcade of pillars into housing for the Roman big wigs that planned troop movements, and enjoyed perks of power, etc.
Imperial Rome Map

Imperial big wigs resting.
Little vehicles to attend to
big wigs' whims. 

Then, as we came out the exit, we saw the Roman weapons of war shown below. Notice the battering ram with the ram's head:

Finally we exited the encampment itself, into the street, where a Roman legion was passing by:

Throughout the four days, Roman troops appeared regularly, marching through the streets and saying "Ave, Caesar." etc. It really was a kick.

The military encampment was an ongoing feature for the entire festival, day and night. There were other performances and displays that I will share in my next post. I hope you've enjoyed the pictures.

Meanwhile, if you like mysteries involving Sherlock Holmes, I've reviewed a good read on my Victorian Scribbles blog HERE . 

Have you been to festivals where everyone dresses the part and arts and crafts reflect the era? Do you enjoy those kind of events? Do you ever dress up in costume to attend one?