Collections: Barbara Alge - The EVIA Digital Archive Project

Religious Festivities, Ritual Dances, and Popular Theatre in Portugal (2004-2006)

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Dança dos Mourisqueiros as Dança do Sobreiro, Festa da Bugiada, Sobrado (Valongo), 2005. Image from video © Barbara Alge.

This collection consists of audiovisual recordings of Portuguese ritual dances, religious festivities and popular theatre including the performances themselves, their festive context and interviews with resource people. The collection represents the following:

  • the stick dance Pauliteiros from the village Constantim (Miranda do Douro, region of Trás-os-Montes) accompanied by the ritual figures of the Carocho and the Velha in the context of St. John the Evangelist festivity (December 2004),

  • ritual dances called Dança dos Homens and Dança das Donzelas from Lousa (Castelo-Branco, Beira Baixa) in the context of Our Lady of Neves festivity (May 2005),

  • the sword dance Baile dos Ferreiros from Penafiel (Douro) in the context of Corpus Christi festivity (May 2005),

  • a Christian and Moor performance called Bugiada from Sobrado (Valongo, region of Douro) in the context of St. John the Baptist festivity (June 2005),

  • a Christian and Moor performance called Festa dos Caretos from Torre de Dona Chama (Mirandela, region of Trás-os-Montes) in the context of St. Steven festivity (December 2005),

  • folia performances in the context of a Holy Ghost festivity (Império) in Santa Maria (Azores) (June 2006),

  • a ritual dance called Dança do Rei David from Braga (region of Minho) in the context of St. John the Baptist festivity (June 2006),

  • the sword dance Dança das Espadas from Ribeira Brava (Madeira) in the context of St. Peter festivity (July 2006) and

  • a popular theatre called Auto da Floripes from Neves (Viana do Castelo, region of Minho) in the context of Our Lady of Neves festivity (August 2006).

The main criterion of the recording was that these performances were designated by different authors as "mouriscas". In the 1930s, they were described by the English diplomat and member of the English Folk Dance and Song Society Rodney Gallop and later by folklorists of the Portuguese Estado Novo regime such as Luís Chaves, Rebelo Bonito and others. However, in the context of audiovisual recordings made by Michel Giacometti and the research group under Ernesto Veiga de Oliveira in the 1960s and 1970s, these phenomena were—for unknown reasons—mostly left out.

The recordings build a solid basis for understanding Portuguese popular culture, especially religious festivities and ritual dances, and may serve as sources for cross-cultural studies with similar phenomena internationally. Contrary to Spain and Latin America, Portuguese ritual dances were neglected in ethnomusicological research. The author believes that the recordings are important material for studying the mutual influence between Portugal and Brazil, Portugal and other former Portuguese colonies, as well as for showing the unity between Spanish and Portuguese popular culture and Portuguese cultural phenomena as part of European traditions.

This collection has not yet been peer reviewed but it is available online in the EVIA Project Archive.

Image © Barbara Alge

Barbara Alge (b. 1981) received her doctoral degree in ethnomusicology at the University of Vienna and is currently a junior professor at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Rostock (Germany). She has lectured at the Universities of Vienna and Salzburg and collaborates with the Instituto de Etnomusicologia in Lisbon. In 2013 she held a CAPES visiting professorship at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil. Her research focuses on dramatic dances, liturgical art music and ritual in Catholic festivities of the Portuguese-speaking world. Further research interests include music(ology) in the cyberspace, and the dialogue between ethnomusicology and music education. B. Alge is author of the book Die Performance des Mouro in Nordportugal (VWB Verlag Berlin, 2010), guest editor of Transatlantic Musical Flows in the Lusophone World (the world of music (new series) 2013/2) and co-editor of Beyond Borders: Welt-Musik-Pädagogik. Musikpädagogik und Ethnomusikologie im Diskurs (Wißner Augsburg, 2013).

Between August 2003 and March 2007 she carried out fieldwork in Portugal in the context of her master's thesis on the stick dance Pauliteiros and her PhD thesis on mourisca performances. Because of her interest in Portuguese ritual dances generally known as mouriscas, she has recorded sword, stick and mourisca dances in the whole of Portugal, as well as Holy Ghost feasts in Santa Maria (Azores). Her PhD project was funded by the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and her fieldwork projects are part of the collections of the Vienna Phonogrammarchiv.

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