Clarksville, TN – What’s beautiful about Ballet Folklorico Viva Panama? Everything. First, you see the many colors in the gorgeous costumes of the dancers. The beauty of the women and men who are dancing delights your eyes. The music is filled with happiness and joy. Just sit back and watch.
At least, that’s what was on tap at Rivers and Spires 2016 on Saturday. Vicky Schuler, mother of Mildred Verona, the leader of Ballet Folklorico Viva Panama, spent two months in Panama this past year gathering materials and beaded hair adornments for the elaborate costumes of the female dancers.The skirts themselves are rumored to be made of 10 yards each. The embroidery on the deeply ruffled blouses is artwork beyond description.
The dancing itself was performed by six ladies and two men. Traditionally, there is an equal number of men and women. All the dancers wore straw hats that were then used by the men as part of the dance itself. The hemlines of full skirts of the women are held at shoulder height on either side as the ladies twirl and flounce them.
The dance steps are usually short and in simple patterns that are repeated as the entire company moves in a circle. Each woman has long braids that fall toward her waistline from beneath the hat. The back of her hair is adorned with elaborate beaded circular designs of many colors and patterns; in some dance companies, the back area under the hat is graced with huge flowers.
During Saturday’s performance, the Panamanian flag was presented as part of the festivities.
This year the group was introduced by Miss Princesa Americas Kayla Hernandez of Springfield, Tennessee. The middle school honor student who is part of the gifted program called Rise in Robertson County attends East Robertson Middle School. She not only is involved in pageants, but is also a ballroom dancing competitor. In spite of the fact that her family’s home burned in October, 2015, Kayla has kept straight A’s in her classes all year.
Nearby were booths displaying cuisine and crafts from these countries.
The International Zone is always a highlight of the annual Rivers and Spires Festival and is not to be missed.
Ballet Folklorico Viva Panama ended their performance by capturing members of the audience to join in the dance. A good time was had by all!