Five folklore groups from around the world are on their way to Nice right now to present the best of their countries’ ethnic artistic and cultural treasures
Nice is in love with its folklore, and its leading representatives – groups like Nice la Belle, La Ciamada Nissarda, or Corou de Berra – need no introduction. They are the Countéa’s best ambassadors far beyond its borders. But the beautiful city by the Bay of Angels, at the crossroads of so many different cultures during its colourful history, also knows that sharing one’s traditions can unite a complex world, and has therefore traditionally been an open and welcoming place. This year, Nice and its neighbouring communities have the honour of hosting a big event: from August 16 through 20, five world cultures – Belorussia, Bolivia, Guinée-Bissau, Iran, and Nicaragua – are sending their best folkloristic music and dance groups to participate in the international Farandole Folklore Festival.
The five day festival kicks off in Nice on Wednesday, 16 August at 18h00 with a parade of all participating nations down the Promenade du Paillon, followed by an opportunity to visit stands featuring local products at the “World Village” at Théâtre de la Verdure. A first highlight of this opening day will be the gala performance at 21h00, featuring all participating nations, along with Corou de Berra, Nice’s world-famous polyphonic a-cappella group:
In the countries’ alphabetical order, the festival’s international participants include:
Radost – meaning “joy” in all the Slavic languages – has presented on stage the dance, music and song of Eastern Europe throughout the world since 1976. The Radost Folk Ensemble brings colour, energy and the precision of ethnic culture to the concert stage. Its repertoire includes the traditions of Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Bosnia, Ukraine, and Russia, with the splendour of authentic costumes, and live music on traditional instruments.
Bolivia: Ballet Folklórico “Manuel Acosta” – Bafobol
As if the current heat wave in the South of France weren’t steamy enough, Bafobol kicks it up yet another notch. The Bolivian company has been gracing the stages of the world for over 40 years. Bolivia, land of fire and water where Indians knew how to cultivate soil in high altitude, forms an astonishing assemblage of forests, eternal snows, volcanoes and salt deserts. Its diversity, intensity, and artisan know-how reflects in its culture. “Here, everything is amplified…. a turtle’s shell becomes a musical instrument, flutes run out of breath, drums beat wildly. Sentimental, modest or demanding, the songs chronicle men. This is a people carried by the wings of a king bird. Here are the sons of the wind and the children of the sun,” is how Bafobol describes its country, and by extension, its work.
Guinee Bissau: National Folklore Ensemble Netos de Bandim
Jumping from South America to West Africa, we now meet a group of young artists and dancers, well known in Guinea Bissau and abroad. For the Netos, music and dancing have always been something more than just entertainment: a hope for troubled youth in their neighborhood, one of the poorest and most disadvantaged areas of the city of Bandim. With dance and music, the group has expanded to winning several international awards. Their new-found notoriety brought funding and tours but the mission remains the same: to help young people and contribute to their education. The Netos invest, in fact, part of their proceeds for school projects in collaboration with various NGOs operating in the area.
Iran: Leymer Folk Group
Leymer has performed internationally since 1991, the height of the Iran/Iraq war. The group hails from Boushehr in Southern Iran, an ancient centre of culture and civilizations due to its seafaring history. A main hub of African and Arab immigration since times immemorial, its music has become an amalgamate of African, Indian, Arab, Iranian, Turkish, Gypsies and Lori cultures. This makes for a unique musical rhythm and melody, which creates a personal style while honoring individual ethnic influences.
Nicaragua: Tepenahuatl Folkloristic Ballet
Under the direction of Blanca Guardado, its founder, choreographer and general director, Tepenahuatl has become one of the most prestigious groups in Nicaragua, developing the traditional dances of the three regions of the country: Pacific, Central and Atlantic. Well over 35 years into its existence, it has performed internationally and won artistic medals. This ballet with 20 dancers and four musicians is undoubtedly one of the best ambassadors of the culture of Nicaragua.
No doubt that the culture and folklore of Nice has its own rightful place in such a prestigious lineup. For further information or to book tickets, please visit the Théâtre de Verdure website.
The participating groups also present their shows in venues around Nice, as well as these metropolitan communities:
Thursday, 17th August
Isola, place de la Mairie
18h00 – Guinée-Bissau
Saint-Etienne de Tinée, place de la Mairie
18h00 – Iran
Levens, jardin public du foyer rural
21h00 – Belarus
Friday, 18th August
Saint-Sauveur sur Tinée, place de la Mairie
17h30 – Guinée Bissau
Belvédère, place des Tilleuls
18h30 – Bolivie
Cagnes-sur-Mer, place de Gaulle
19h00 – Nicaragua
Théâtre de Verdure
Espace Jacques Cotta
Tel: +33 (0)4 97 13 51 16
Lead image courtesy La Farandole Festival International de Folklore