Sunday, January 1, 2012

Amador Ballumbrosio

Several people from the past generation stand out as having played a tremendous role in preserving Afro-Peruvian music and dance.  One of these is Amador Ballumbrosio.

Amador Ballumbrosio, who died very recently (2009) at an advanced age, was instrumental in keeping the hatajo de negritos from dying out.  The hatajos de negritos are groups of dancers who perform on December 24 in honor of baby Jesus.  As this implies, we're talking Christian Catholic religion here.

Jesus López dancing in the hatajo de negritos.  PHOTO Carlos O. López y la Org. Cimarrones
The hatajos were originally composed only of boys and men but some now include girls.   They dance accompanied by a violin which is played by the group's leader.  In addition to the violin, the dancers themselves have bells or sometimes, a string of bells.  The traditional Afro-Peruvian form of fancy footwork, called zapateo, is also an integral part of the dancing.  Plus the members of the group often sing as they dance.

Taken together, the violin, bells, footwork and singing provide an ample musical accompaniment.

The members of the various hatajo de negritos dance for hours, starting in the afternoon of Dec. 24 and continuing on until midnight.  Part of the celebration also includes parades with young men carrying floats that have figures of baby Jesus and the virgin Mary.  And as you'd expect, there is a priest there to encourage them, to bless them, and to speak and recite the mass.

In this videoclip, you see Amador Ballumbrosio and others performing zapateo.  Be sure to watch to the end!

 In fact, Amador Ballumbrosio was well known as a master of the zapateo footwork, and he also played the violin for his group of hatajo de negritos.  The performers rehearsed under his guidance for months before Dec. 24, with discipline and pretty strict rules but also refreshments and a great deal of family support.

In our documentary, we have a performance dedicated to him in which our performers, led by Lalo Izquierdo, execute some zapateo.  In additon, we have some great videoclips of people performing in the hatajos de negritos of El Carmen, Peru, a town famous for maintaining the tradition and the home of Amador Ballumbrosio.  We also have some photos of Amador Ballumbrosio himself, with his family.  Several members of his large family have themselves become important figures in Afro-Peruvian traditional music and dance, including in the hatajo de negritos.

Amador Ballumbrosio.  PHOTO:  Daniel Moore of Unique South America Travel Experience
In addition to his family, two organizations are devoting especial attention to this tradition:  the Centro Cultural Afroperuano "San Daniel de Carboni" of El Carmen in Chincha province, Peru and a group with a national (Peruvian) focus, the Cimarrones.

OUR NEXT BLOG will be about an aspect of black Latino history:  the black peddlers of Lima, Peru

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