Nicaragua: Palo de Mayo in León [VIDEO]



Paraninfo, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, León

This year marks a special anniversary for the “National Autonomous University of Nicaragua” (UNAN), founded two-hundred years ago in the former capital of León.

Last January, three days were set aside to observe the milestone—a host of lectures, pronouncements, and performances all made for a proper celebration.

I traveled from Managua to León on one of the days in order to take in some of the events, including a lecture by Nicaraguan historian and writer Jorge Eduardo Arellano on the history of the university (a book accompanying the lecture was given to each attendee) and a dance performance by students from UNAN-León and other Nicaraguan universities.

As for the latter, student dancers from BICU (Bluefields Indian and Caribbean University) and URACCAN (“University of the Autonomous Regions of the Caribben Coast of Nicaragua”) presented some energetic Palo de Mayo, a traditional Afro-Caribbean dance made up of a series of sensual (often erotic) movements. Palo de Mayo is danced in communities on the east coast of Nicaragua, as well as parts of Belize, Honduras, and Panama.

The UNAN-León presentation was the first time I’d ever seen Palo de Mayo. I found it very moving and was struck by how varied Nicaraguan culture truly is.

Here’s a video excerpt of the song “Anansi oh Tingalai” from the celebration.

[N.B. This is not an official Department of State website or blog. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State.]

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