Dance, Music and Instruments

There are a great variety of traditional dances in Azuero depending on the city or town in which they are found. These dances are accompanied by the rhythm of the guitar, violin and drums.

The Mejorana is very distinctive of the region and is performed with a Mejorana guitar, native to Azuero, but also with the Caja and Socabón. The rhythm is accompanied by the stomping of Cutarras, traditional leather sandals. The dances sung with Mejorana are called: “Entrá”, “Cierrille” and “Remate”. Some other musical pieces interpreted by the Mejorana are: “Torrente Zapatero,” “Torrente Gallino,” “Mejorana Cumbia,” “Socabón Llanero,” among others.

The Tamborito is another known rhythm that consists of singing poems about everyday life, from chores, celebrations, disappointments, remembrances of a people or place where a story originated, among others. One person, El o La cantalante, the singer, sings la canta, the chant, and a group around the musicians does the chorus, responding with applause and salomas, traditional calls.

AEP’s cantalante Leo Mena holds up an Azuero Spider Monkey totuma as he leads a traditional tamborito song modified to talk about the importance of the spider monkey and its dry forest habitat in the 2012 Pedasi traditional carreta festival, c. Sophie Fuchs

One of the more well-known dances of tamborito is the “Rueda.” It begins with the formation of a circle of men and women wearing polleras (local skirts), in which a man comes out and picks one women out of the group with whom to dance.

Another typical regional dance is Manitos Ocueños in which couples line up to the sound of a drum. Regularly a man takes the initiative to set the pace and the rest of the couples follow him, shifting positions occasionally.

Música Típica” is well known in Panama and in the opinion of the author, the best accordion players belong and still belong to the Azuero region.

José Ángel Quintero, of the Pedasí traditional group Remembranzas (Remembrances) plays accordion at the R.V.S. Pablo A. Barrios Earth Day celebration 2011, c. Ruth Metzel

What we regularly call typical or traditional music is that which is played by the accordion, string instruments, modern percussion and the “churuca,” a ribbed gourd instrument.

A parade float for the Thousand Pollera parade in Las Tablas sports a large “churuca” and maracas, c. Ruth Metzel

Author: Irving Vergara