The new face of Carnival in Quito

05/Febrero/2013 | 09:33

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Carnival time in Quito has acquired a new dynamic.  In years past this festival was a pretext for playing jokes and games on your fellow man. Specifically, it was a chance to bother and soak in water those who did nothing more than walk the streets of Quito. 

Perhaps you remember a time when you felt at risk to walk through the streets for fear of a sudden “habitual” Carnival attack that would leave you in straights with a bucket of water.

Well, times have changed.

The idea of locking yourself inside your home for fear of the “water wars” is history - nostalgic memories for the few who still wish it were so.  Today, Quito celebrates a culture of environmental consciousness, free of aggression.  Starting this year Carnival celebrations will be enjoyed in the open air, the streets, plazas, and boulevards of the city’s neighborhoods and parishes with ample artistic and cultural events.

On February 9, the streets of Quito will come alive with a traditional masked parade, performed by the Jaccigua Ballet Troupe, bringing back to Quito a tradition that is celebrated the world over.

Carnival was originally a pagan festival that ended during the time of “Santos Inocentes.”  Locally, in all of the neighborhoods and parishes of Quito the custom was to dress up with masks and perform animal-like dances that mimicked the typical wildlife from the forests and mountains.  

Additionally, groups were created to mimic political figures and common personalities such as the shoe-shine men, hairdressers, and bakers, as well as the social outcasts of the time.

The masks were made of simple materials: paper, leather, wood, wire, and clay, and accompanied costumes of colored cloth or mere rags purchased or taken from local the stores and workshops.

Rhythm would arrive with the town band that intoned the dancers who went dancing in pairs from one side to another, jumping in and out of circles. 

The Carnival festivals of yesteryear were celebrated principally by young, single men and women, with a few families joining in to play and throw talc and flower petals and bring the crowds alive with color.

During this year’s Carnival Festivities, La Ronda – Quito’s emblematic, traditional street in the historic center - will be the focal point for Carnival. 

The “Mascarada,” a parade moving at the pace of the “alabazos,” “sanjanitos,” “tonadas,” and “saltashpas,” will dance from the Plaza Grande to La Ronda (Dios de Morales Street) where tourists and residents alike can marvel at the color, rhythm, and tradition of a true Andean festival.  This traditional parade of dancers and musicians have replaced the water wars with the richness of folklore masks. 

La Ronda  will be alive with the activity of tourists, restaurants, and a dozen artisans who, with passion and skill, perform their crafts – one of the most essential expressions of tradition in Quito.

The “Mascarada Andina” in Quito’s Historical District

February 9 - Quito Historical Center

More than 210 dancers and musicians from the Jaccigua Ballet will be part of the masked group paying homage to mestiza essence in the majestic scene that is  Quito’s historical center

10:30-11:00 -- Gathering at the Plaza Grande

Route: Along Garcia Moreno and Bolivar Streets from the Plaza Grande to Plaza Santo Domingo along Maldonado Avenue, meeting at “La Ronda”

11:30-12:00 -- “Mascarada” Celebration (Guayaquil and La Ronda Streets)

12:10 -- Dance toward the Eugenio Espejo Plaza, Boulevard 24 de Mayo.






Ciudad Quito

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