Danzas Folcloricas Colombianas

Colombia’s rich cultural stew of Indian, European, and African elements has produced a remarkable array of folk dances. An early European influence can be seen in a courtship dance with mincing steps and stiffly held arms–it looks like the courtly exercises that were the precursors of ballet, all decorum and rigid floor patterns. Several dances use scarves as romantic links–the men swing them at the women’s ankles, or a couple clasps one by either end. In another dance, women hold white skirts with cascading flounces spread wide before their faces, creating big, bobbing half-moons, then drop them and subtly undulate their hips in movements barely visible under layers of cloth. Other dances are clearly African, with call-and-response singing, lots of percussion, and elaborate costumes, props, and masks that establish character and tell a story. This 29-member Colombian troupe–founded in 1954 by Delia Zapata Olivella–is dedicated to them all. Olivella has spent years researching the dances of Colombia and has brought the results to stages in China, Russia, Europe, South America, and the United States. Now the company arrives in Chicago–and by good fortune this one-night-only tropical show will be performed outdoors. Wednesday at 7:30 at Navy Pier’s Skyline Stage, 600 E. Grand; $25-$28, $15 for children 12 and under, with discounts for groups and members of the International Latino Cultural Center of Chicago. Call 312-559-1212 for tickets, 312-409-1757 for information. (A dance workshop, “Ritmo & Expresion,” will be held Thursday, July 20, from 7 to 9; it’s $25. For more information call Edgar Serda at Tierra Colombiana, 773-275-7179.) –Laura Molzahn

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.