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Behind the scenes look at Barranquilla Carnival


03-02-2017 09:11 BJT

(Source: CGTN)

Designated by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Barranquilla Carnival is the second largest in the world - after Rio de Janeiro's festival. The carnival attracts more than one million spectators each year.

Early Sunday morning and this Colombian house is bustling. Performers of the folkloric Garabato dance are rushing to get ready. They have been practicing since November to perform at the Barranquilla Carnival.

"I had a steak, then a protein shake and now we are going to have some soup, because we are going to walk anywhere from four to six kilometers today and we have to be strong," Antony Visbal, dancer with Garabato Del Norte, said.

73 -year- old Leopoldo Klee has been the director of this dance group for 24 years. He is a doctor by trade who commits his heart and his own earnings to bring the traditional Garabato dance to life.

"The dance is a fight between life and death. Traditionally in the afro dance rythms, death is the winner. At the carnival, life has to win because we need to continue dancing the four days of the carnival," Leopoldo Klee, dancer with Garabato Del Norte, said.

The Garabato dance begins with the men and women- who represent life- dancing flirtatiously to the festive rhythm of the Chand music.   

"Then death tries to seduce the woman and she falls into its spell. The man comes in to rescue her and begins a battle where life wins over death,"Fernando Pinzon, dancer with Garabato Del Norte, said. 

This rich tradition is the reason the United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO declared the Barranquilla Carnival an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

183 groups made up of 12 thousand people participate in the Grand Parade which takes place on the second day of the Barranquilla Carnival. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Grand Parade tradition.

"The Grand Parade is the manifestation of all of the folklore that makes up our Atlantic coast, you see 50 different varieties of folklore dances such as Cumbia, Garabato and Congo," Klee said.

The Garabato dancers like the majority of the participants in this parade are volunteers who pay an inscription fee to perform. Leopoldo subsidizes costumes and rehearsal time with the band for those who can't afford it. But this year will mark Leopoldos' last carnival, as he says the costs to put on the show have become too much for him.   He leaves the legacy to his son, and plans to continue to watch from the sidelines. 

"I was born to live the carnival and my last living days will be with it," Klee said.

Proving the carnival slogan,  "Those who live it are those who enjoy it."

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