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Jason Gardner
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Afro-Brazilian
Brazil
Condado, OT (Brazil)
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Maracatu Dancing in the countryside of Brazil

by Jason Gardner
August 25, 2007
Condado, OT (Brazil)
Jason Gardner is an award-winning travel writer and photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He is currently documenting traditional musicians and culture in Brazil's Northeast states. Jason was recently selected as a Finalist in PDN/National Geographic Traveller's World in Focus travel photography contest. You can visit his website at jasongardner.net and email him at jason@jasongardner.net.
Bells clanging, drums in the background, the hulking form of the caboclos-do-lança hurtle into view. The casual viewer can't get too close, since the dancers' 12-foot lances point and sweep onlookers out of the way of their constantly shifting formations. The dancers' well coordinated movements — circles and inverted loops, all running in place — throughout the hot and dusty streets of Condado, in the heart of Pernambuco's Zona da Mata sugar cane growing region, are known as maracatu baque solto, or maracatu rural.

The maracatu is a traditional Carnaval procession encompassing dance, poetry and music, and a collection of characters including a standard bearer, a singer, a small percussion orchestra and a king and queen. All of these are led by the caboclos-do-lança. These men, sugar cane cutters by day, have near mythic status in the towns, carrying around costumes over 50 pounds and walking for miles in the blistering sun. All the while they parade, running jumping and twisting, swirling their lances in the air, almost daring a spectator to venture close and risk injury.
Maracatu Dancing

Maracatu Dancing

Photo © & courtesy of Jason Gardner


Maracatu Dancing

Maracatu Dancing

Photo © & courtesy of Jason Gardner


Maracatu Dancing

Maracatu Dancing

Photo © & courtesy of Jason Gardner

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