Dansa de la mortDance of Death
If you look for information about dances of Death (or danses macabres) in English, French, Spanish, Italian... everything you'll find will be about middle age dances, no longer existent, or, specially, pictorial representation of those ancient dances. However, if you search in Catalan, you'll find information about real, actual
dances. A few recovered ones (Manresa, la Selva del Camp), some lost not so long ago (Rupià, 1935) and at least one which has survived, uninterruptedly, for centuries, the one from Verges.
This kind of dances are supposed to be originated in the middle ages, after plagues that killed millions. Some did represent Death itself, other alive people who may die at any moment. Some had text, some where silent.
In the one from Verges there are five skeletons, two adults, three kids, who dance, and five companions, three adults and two kids. These five are one drummer, who plays the minimalistic rythm, and the other four carry torches
The dancers, who walk in a cross formation are:
* El Capdanser
(lit. head dancer): The one in front who carries the typical Death scythe, with the Latin inscription NEMINI PARCO
("I mercy/skip none"). He mostly gives his back to the walking direction.
(standard bearer): The one in the middle who carries the standard, where you can read on one side the same Latin NEMINI PARCO
and on the other side LO TEMPS ÉS BREU
(Catalan for "time is brief/short). He advances looking at the sides.
* Els Platets
(lit. little dishes): The two kids (7 or 8 year olds) on the sides who carry a small plate on their left hand with dust and ashes, to remind people what will they become. They advance looking at the sides (both the same side, opposite to that the standard bearer faces).
* El Rellotge
(clock): The last kid (9 or 10 year old) on the back, who carries a clock without hands and who points to the dial randomly, to remind pople Death can reach them at any moment. He advances looking at the sides (same the standard bearer faces), so people watching will always face either the clock or the little plates.
This dance happens only during Easter, on the Maundy Thursday (so yesterday night).
Video surce: Dansa de la Mort - Semana Santa Verges Jueves Santo 2010
Animated video made with: http://www.yt2gif.com/
A video where you'll be able to see the details: La Processó de Verges: Dansa de la Mort
More information (in Catalan and Spanish, use a translator): http://www.laprocessodeverges.com/
The village: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verges,_Catalonia