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Columbian Moves

The country's national dance company is set to perform at UA Centennial Hall

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Along the humid Caribbean coast of Colombia in South America, the story goes, a fish taught the people to dance.

When fishermen caught the mapalé long ago, the fish wriggled so vigorously that its movements became the mapalé, a frenetic Colombian national dance.

That dance gives its name to a concert at UA Centennial Hall next Saturday, Feb. 4. In Mapalé, the Ballet Folklórico de Antioquía, the national dance company of Colombia, performs a program of 16 works. Danced by a troupe of 20 dancers in wildly colored skirts and pantaloons, the pieces reflect the mixed heritage of the nation at the northern end of South America.

Indigenous, African and Spanish influences can be heard in the titles of the dances—"Cumbia," "Tambora," "San Agustín"—and in the music.

Vocalist Cristina Escamilla sings to the live music of seven musicians. Some of the instruments are familiar—guitar, bass, piano, percussion, clarinet, sax—and some, like the bombardino horn, are exotic to American listeners.

One critic called Mapalé a "spectacular show of lights, music and dance."

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