Nicaragua: “Managua” dances the Mazurka



A 1930 map of Managua (detail) produced by the US Marines.

A map of Managua (detail) produced by the US Marines in 1930.

I’ve been reading Josefa de Aguerri‘s book “Personification of the History of Managua,” a play originally written in 1937 to celebrate the silver anniversary of the school for young women she founded, known as the Colegio de Señoritas de Managua. Published in 1942, the book is perhaps the first of many histories written about the modern-day capital of Nicaragua.

One of my favorite moments is the way in which “Managua,” personified by a school girl in costume (“a fine lady in a poorly constructed dress”), celebrates the news when made Capital of the Republic on February 5, 1852 by then Chief of State don Laureano Pineda.

Here is a fragment from the scene:

I celebrated the occasion of my conversion into a capital with a dance at which beverages were drunk… Chicha? That is too plain. Spirits? That is for sale at the store. Cognac? That irritates the stomach and is expensive. I drank fine things, of course, some wine, skim milk, syrup, cinnamon spirits, and coffee liqueur.

A huge party is well worth it, for such a great occasion!

I will now dance a rhythmic mazurca with that beau. (She calls a companion)

(Dances) (Pauses) (Looking around)

My limits are narrow. Towards the North, the lake (site of Central Park); towards the South, the site of the Instituto Pedagógico; towards the East, Santo Domingo neighborhood; towards West, San Sebastián neighborhood.

She could have celebrated the honor with many other kinds of dances, but she chose the mazurka, I imagine, for a purpose. It would have been one of the principal salon dances in 1852 throughout much of Europe and the Americas, but quite outmoded, if not mostly forgotten, by 1942; yet sufficiently familiar to the audience and publicly acceptable for a school girl to dance with a boy.

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