Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Cercle Cerbère

Just returned from a couple of days on the Côte Vermeille, in this last town before Spain - a constant source of wonderment and inspiration. Big SNCF depot with all kinds of scraping, hissing, squealing and clanging, plus the sounds of nature, cicadas, sea, chickens....
This visit we found to some real folklore. The shady 'place de village' was, we were told, made in a circular shape to accommodate the evenings of Sardanas (no, not sardines, must turn off this predictive text) - traditional Catalan circle dances which old and young alike join in, though being French as well as Catalan there is probably a slight reluctance on the part of the male population to dance with such dainty steps. The circles should be boy-girl-boy-girl but the boys here were rather outnumbered. The 11-piece band cobla have some very distinctive Catalan instruments - 2 tible and 2 tenore - raucous oboe/shawm-type instruments and the leader who plays 2 instruments simultaneously - a flabiol - small flute - and a tambori - a tiny drum strapped to his arm.
When the band start up each number it takes a while for the dancers to take to the floor. This is because they're busy figuring out what the musicians are up to, the structure, the time divisions, etc which dictate what dance steps are appropriate. As soon as they have it sussed they begin to form little circles which then grow in size. Camera had a bit of difficulty focussing in the low light....

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