Saturday, June 3, 2023

Cetina lit by the fire of the Contradanza in honor of San Juan Lorenzo

Its exact origin is not known and there is no single theory, but since the 20s of the last century, people in Cetina (Zaragoza) have heard a Celtiberian dance at the doors of their houses by the light of a fire. There is also a reference to a baroque dance of The Nights of the Moon… 1751. It is the Contradanza de Cetina, the most important tradition of this city in the Calatayud region and which has been declared a property of Intangible Cultural Interest of Aragon since 2012.

It is celebrated every year on the night of May 19 in honor of San Juan Lorenzo, when the town square is illuminated only by the torches carried by the dancers. The devil is the character who directs the dance with his applause and gives the order to start the evictions, that is, the dances that are part of this dance. Eight other contortionists, four of them dressed in black with white decorations and the other four, inverted, cover their faces and develop their figures.

It all starts at eleven o’clock this Friday night, when residents and visitors will throng the streets of Cetina to take part in its most important event. Contradanza is a show of about two hours, during which the contradancero measures each step and takes each position so that everything goes perfectly. The four waiters standing in front wear black suits with white chains and are usually the strongest, as they are the ones who occupy the bottom positions during the figures.

The four in back, wearing the same suits but in this case, with a white background and black details, are smaller and more agile, climbing over their comrades and standing atop the towers. These eight contradancero are always accompanied by the devil, who is wearing the figure’s red crown, placing himself on top after the formation is complete.

Representation is a point of acrobatics that makes it very showy, but the figures also have meaning. They represent secular images, such as arches or fountains; mythological, like the god of water; and especially religious, with San Juan Lorenzo, the Virgin of Atocha or Santa Quiteria, recently added to the dance.

It has been held annually for about 30 years, but the tradition has gone through times of low ebb. The lack of volunteers to be Contradanceros has been one of the main reasons why the party cannot be celebrated every year. But several decades ago, a group of youths from the city showed interest in recovering this tradition, and since then, the fire of the axes illuminates Cetina every May 19, except in years of epidemics. In earlier times, civil war was also the reason for the absence of parties and for various reasons, seven years also went without representation.

Cetina’s dance, composed only of children

The main and largest act of the celebration of San Juan Lorenzo, the patron saint of the city, is the Cetina Contradanza. But, although it is the most popular proposal, it is not the only one. Dance is the most distinctive tradition of this festival and it is different from others as it is made up of children only. In addition to the usual palotiao, these represent narrations, reviews of good and bad work done by the city council during the year, as well as other current social issues.

Festivities are from May 18 to 22 and this Friday there will be dancing at 11:30 in the Plaza de la Villa. The protest begins at the same location at 11:30 p.m., and the party will continue later with an orchestra at the Municipal Pavilion. There will be inflatables, winch championships and other activities for all spectators to enjoy during the day on Saturday. There will be Bull Fight on Sunday and Valentine Bar Shooting Competition on Monday. At the end of the festivities that night there will be a firework with which the Cetineiros will say goodbye to their big days, until the Contradanza returns to light up the square next year.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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