The "Danzantas"

The Dancers, DANZANTAS

The  "danzantas” is a group of dancers consisting of "palillera”, “alcaldesa” and eight dancers. It was not always like that.  Until the 1980's, the “danzantes” were a group of men, but some years they didn´t take part in the fiesta because there were not enough members so, starting in 1981 the women took over this tradition.

 

Dichos -Declaration for the saints- : The “dichos” are poems recited for Candelaria and San Blas after the mass. They are exclamatory poems about praise, requests and memories of personal or shared experiences, many of them with a touch of humor. The “danzantas” memorize every “dicho” and exclaim them to the image of the Saint.  This is one of the most emotive moments of La endiablada and it is very common to see tears in the eyes of the people of Almonacid, the visitors and, of course, the “danzantas”.

 

Music: The “danzantas” dance is always accompanied by drum and flageolet music, but we can find two kinds of rhythms: the binary one, while they dance around the village in the morning of 2 and 3 February, and the other rhythm of 7/8 (3+2+2) which is used at religious ceremonies like the procession or “elarado”, also in some figures like the “culebra”. The melodies are similar to the rest of the region, where drum and flageolet are usually played.

 

Dances: The “danzantas” have a great variety of different dances, many more than “diablos”. Its modus operandus starts with the “alcaldesa”, who is leading the group, followed by the eight “danzantas” and the “palillera”, the last one, in charge of the sticks used for the “paloteos”. During the morning procession around the village, the “danzantas” walk to the rhythm of the music moving their hands and hitting the castanets with every step.

In the afternoon of 2 February the “danzantas” dance the “paloteos”.They take the sticks and hit them together while dancing. At the end of the “paloteo”every “danzanta” returns to her initial position. These are some examples of “paloteos”: “la molinera”, “el pepino gordo”,“marcha real”, “las trompetillas”, “el ratón”, etc, and each one has its own choreography. It seems that these dances are common in Spanish folklore, from the Celtas, called “sword dances”, practiced for warriors.

We can also see before the procession dance 'cordón' which are arranged circularly holding ribbons that were stranded on a long central tree; or "la culebra", in which the danzantas come out of their formation progressively adopting a sinuous linear layout, to finally return to their initial position.

 

 

Costume

costumes DANZANTAS

The “danzantas” dress in matching-coloured skirts, underskirts, pololos, stockings, bodice and black apron, adorned white espadrilles. The scarf on the shoulders is white mother of pearl the day of the Candelaria and black the day of San Blas. About the white sox, they carry crossing red ribbons. Two separate sets of multicolored ribbons are placed on their shoulders. In addition, each “danzanta” carries castanets which make sounds to the rhythm of the music. The “alcaldesa”, on the basis of this position, carries a long stick decorated with flowers at its end, while the “palillera” takesthe plow in religious acts and castanets. In addition, on day 1 and day 4, the “danzantas” dress in a more simple way, without the scarf but with a skirt similar to the manchegas, multicolored stripes.

The ancient testimonies tell us that the task of the dancers was extremely laborious. Since the dancers had to start out first thing in the morning it was necessary to devote much of the morning to getting dressed since it was based on tapes and interwoven silks.

 
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