La Falda de Fela (Fela’s Dancing Skirt)

 

June 2017 Bombazo 41 (1 of 1)
Dancer Felicita Hernandez at AfricaCaribe June 2017 Bombazo at the Casita de Don Pedro in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood.

I took this image last weekend at a Bombazo which is a gathering of people that dance the ancient Bomba dances from Puerto Rico. During the summer months in Chicago, one of the places that Bombazos take place at is at the Casita de Don Pedro on Division Street in Humboldt Park. I was using a 35mm lens on a Nikon D7000, so I did not have the luxury of very wide angles to capture crowds and overall vistas so I was looking at individuals on a short range. So I photograph without being able to imagine the final result.

On this day I was using a 35mm lens on a Nikon D7000, so I did not have the luxury of very wide angles to capture crowds and overall vistas that I so much like, so I was looking at individuals on a short range. So I photographed without being able to imagine the final result. When I put this image on the computer it became evident that besides the drums the symbol of Bomba dancing are the skirts.

On this day I was using a 35mm lens on a Nikon D7000, so I did not have the luxury of very wide angles to capture crowds and overall vistas so I was looking at individuals on a short range. So I photograph without being able to imagine the final result. When I put this image on the computer it became evident that besides the drums the symbol of Bomba dancing are the skirts, your skill level in many ways are determined by how you handle the skirt.

Felicitas or Fela the individual on the image, handles the skirt gracefully and with skill which shows many years of learning and dedication, in fact I think the skirt becomes her and she express what she feels with the skirt. The skirt and her are one.

Bomba y Plena – The Puerto Rican uniqueness

The last year I have had an identity crisis. I have lived in Chicago since 1989 except for a year that I tried to live in Puerto Rico but had to come back since I could not find a job. I have four children two from my first marriage which regularly visit Puerto Rico and I have two from my second marriage and one is a one year old toddler. So for the last two months we have been on a binge of all things Puertorican in our family and last week I went to Puerto Rico myself and when the plane landed I cried. I realized I can not in anyway shape of form divorce me from who I am. I feel more Puertorican now than ever and in my mind I am scheming a way that I can do a business that can more frequently allow me to visit Puerto Rico and Colombia.

With all of that being said, I thought of this, last night we went to the monthly “Bombazo” dance recital at the Placita de Don Pedro in Division Street in Chicago and as I walked in from the street my heart raced, and I felt a rush in my body that let me know that our culture is not dying and that there are people worldwide that are doing everything it takes to keep a tradition, a culture, a way of life, a heritage and distinct culture expression alive.

In the following images we see a Bomba dancer dance a rhythm that when properly executed is more soul than technique, originally it was a dance of black slaves probably performed as the only outlet to express the pain of living in the white european man’s bondage.

Bomba and Plena represent what I call the Puertorican uniqueness which I see in Chicago as a growing movement. Let’s keep it alive.