San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arenal Report

Kudos to Carla Gómez for organizing Dancing to the Oldies at Rock River Lodge Saturday night, March 30. More than 40 people from around Lake Arenal rocked, rolled and twisted to tunes most young people have never heard. The evening was a great success as nostalgia coursed through the veins of all who agreed that we’d lived in the best of times.

Local chiropractors were hard-pressed to accommodate the sudden demand for their services, but suggested the event should be enjoyed more frequently.

    Recently, the Arenal Community Association hosted a marvelous evening of folk dancing, featuring the traditional dances of Peru, Ecuador, Mexico and Costa Rica. The dances ranged from the dramatic to the hilarious. The Volcano Dance of Ecuador, evoking the explosive power of an active volcano, was a gymnastic tour de force of body control, majestic movement and intensely reverential expression performed solo by a young man easily the equal of Nureyev.

      The Mexican Dance of the Old Men had the audience convulsing with laughter as beautiful young women partnered with children dressed as men wearing masks of old men who carried canes to assist them in a perfect imitation of old men with high hopes, versus coy women of great youth and beauty. The choreography was delightfully humorous.

      The creativity and costuming of the Peruvian dance troupe was especially colorful. The intricacies of their constantly moving and swirling dance patterns covered the gymnasium floor like a continuously changing kaleidoscope. Costa Rica presented the largest group of dancers, some of which came from schools in the Arenal area. Again, costuming played a role as the dancers appeared in traditional clothes of coffee pickers and sugar cane field workers.

An amusingly modern dance had males dressed as American cowboys, while the girls wore denim skirts, western hats and boots. The boisterous crowd expressed its appreciation by clapping in time to the music and after each country’s dance numbers. Many spectators used their iPods and cell phones to record the whole evening and share it with friends. Thanks to the Arenal Community Association for inviting these dancers to share their cultural heritage with us.

–William & Jean Priest

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