Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Encounter for a New Horizon
Vila Fortaleza January 2008


Forró is the popular dance form from Northeastern Brazil where Mestre Irineu was born. In its modern form it is a vigorous dance like a polka but more rhythmic and hip twisting and it has been remixed into forms that are currently popular throughout Brazil, and even in the USA.

In Vila Fortaleza it is danced mostly in the old-fashioned waltz style. Here are the words (in italics) of Padrinho Luiz Mendes recalling forró in the days of Mestre Irienu.

"He provided dance parties. Mestre danced a lot and his favorite dance was precisely the forró. He liked the forró. He was a good and beautiful dancer and was fun in a party. I happened to be in a party that lasted the whole night, but there was a time in the past where they danced for three consecutive nights. ....

"Drinking Daime at a forró… boy, it made a party of it...."

"It is a [spiritual] work. It is a work that gives joy to witness, to dance with your mother, drinking Daime, mirando [visioning], the most beautiful thing that one can appreciate. “Oh! But I don't know how to dance!” The orchestra teaches, the Daime teaches, placing everything in the right way as it should: dancing and mirando."




"There is an expression he [Mestre Irineu] used when he was going to ask a lady for a dance. It is a thing so rich, so rich, the force of this expression upon asking a lady for a dance.... He would stand up and say: “A lady made of silver to dance with a gentleman made of gold.”

"It is very pleasant, it is very good to dance with your woman, to dance with your sister and to dance, finally, with all the ladies, mostly the ones that also took the Daime, because in order for it to work is recommended that the gentleman drinks Daime and the lady also drinks Daime. But it is good, it is very good, it is like a dream that we are just remembering."

"And let’s dance, and let’s cheer up."

Saturnino singing a Luiz Gonzaga classic.

The song complains about the loss of good air, water, land and of Chico Mendes. At the song's end, Saturnino changes the lyrics slightly to include Mestre Irineu. Chico Mendes and Raimundo Irineu Serra both launched globally significant movements -- political and spiritual -- giving new hope to people and nature from the forests of Acre.

On this night most of the forró musicians (and many guests) were from the local township of Caipixaba which borders on Xapuri where Chico Mendes fought to save the rainforest from the ravages logging and ranching and was murdered in 1988. Across the last 20 years the politics of the area has become more progressive with Acre State programs of land-use planning and sustainable economic development. The old tensions between those who want to preserve and those who want to exploit are being eased in the process.

Today, of course, there are new pressures. Signs of globalization are everywhere. There is sugar cane being planted for ethanol



and even gas and oil prospecting (in northern Acre). The road to the west coast is being paved in Peru where, unfortunately, violence and murder have flared up again and illegal logging has penetrated onto Indian lands in Brazil.

The situation is more tranquil in Acre, for sure, but the pressure to develop economically through exports is great. Already, a new bridge to Peru has been opened connecting the roads of Acre and Brazil to Asia and the markets of the Pacific Rim.


On this night of forró at Vila Fortaleza another bridge is being built -- between local people from the rural ranching culture and Santo Daime visitors from the urban centers and abroad. Here, in tiny Vila Fortaleza, they are singing and dancing along the "inner road" of Santo Daime where the important "export products" are friendship and joy. Perhaps, this exuberance and happiness may also have global significance.

Here are some photos:

















View all the photos here.

NOTE: I think it's important to state that the Daime-Forró shown in this post is not a common experience along the Santo Daime path, and it is not presented by the Luiz Mendes group outside of the home ground of Vila Fortaleza.

Ayahuasca-based rituals involve a very strong psychoactive substance that is often purgative and extremely difficult. In no sense can they be considered as "party drugs." In order to achieve what is shown above, there must be a very strong spiritual container and many well-practiced people. Fortunately, that is what exists at Vila Fortaleza.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lou-
great pics-- I think that the one with the girl in the pink dress and the boy inthe yellow t-shirt is pricelsess-- Signy in Bend

luis eduardo pomar said...

Lovely music and dancers,
thank you for what everything you show to us!

Anonymous said...

Nice post, Lou! Gabriell who visited us from Bahia, Salvador, talked about this some. My first encounter with the music of Forro was a band out of NY called "Forro in the Dark" They are promoted some by David Byrne of Talking Heads fame.

-- Scott in Bend, OR