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A vejigante is a clown-like character who appears in festival celebrations of Puerto Rico. Traditional colors of the Vejigantes were black, red, and yellow. Today, vejigantes wear brightly colored, ornate masks (máscaras) of all colors and a costume with bat-like wings. The word vejigante comes from the words vejiga (bladder) and gigantic (giant), due to custom of blowing up and painting cow bladders. Bystanders are often tapped with the bladders during the processional. The masks are often linked to many festivals that continue today, especially in the cities of Loíza and Ponce. In the US diaspora, celebrations also take place in New York City, Chicago and Orlando.
Members of the Raíces Cultural Center Folkloric Ensemble share the stories, history, and cultural traditions of los Vejigantes de Puerto Rico. Our virtual presentation includes an introduction to los Vejigantes through music, dance, and storytelling. Participants will learn about the music and instruments of bomba and plena, the costumes and masks of los Vejigantes, and see the cultural history celebrating the tradition in action with songs and dances of los Vejigantes. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate through the teaching of simple call and response songs associated with los Vejigantes.
Francisco G. Gómez (director, percussion, tres, guitar, vocals) – Francisco is the Director and co-founder of Raíces Cultural Center. He began formal instruction in music at the age of 8 and continues to perform and teach the music of the Caribbean as the Director of the Raíces Cultural Center Ensemble. Francisco has directed several productions featuring the music, song, dance and traditions of the Caribbean, “Los Vejigantes de Puerto Rico”, “The Spirit of the Drum: History and Evolution of an Afrocaribbean Tradition”, “Festival for the Dead”, and “Orishas: Tale of Two Waters”.
Nicole Wines (choreography, percussion, bass, vocals) – Nicole is a co-founder of Raíces Cultural Center and coordinates its EcoCulture and Digital Archive programs. She has been playing with the Raíces Cultural Center Ensemble since its formation in 2008, and also serves as a teaching artist, dancer and choreographer for the ensemble.
This program is currently only being offered on a virtual platform for live streaming and interactive presentations. Please contact Raíces Cultural Center director Francisco G. Gómez for booking details at 908-227-5671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.