La Danza de los Enanos in La Palma: the once-every-five-year chance to see the dwarves dance definitively postponed until 2025 because of covid19

photo: Bajadadelavirgen

Updated 12 March 2021: After the five-yearly performance being cancelled last year we were waiting for the announcement as to whether it would take place this year but the sad decision has been made to give up on it entirely for this lustrum. It has now been rescheduled to 2025 when it would have taken place naturally anyway. As a religious festival at heart, the decision was that of the Tenerife bishopric, and Bishop Bernardo Álvarez has said today that there’s no way it can sensibly be proposed for later this year given current circumstances with the pandemic unabated, and the extensive planning and time required to put on the performance, all the while with absolutely no guarantee that it could go ahead later this year anyway. The video of the main part of the dwarves’ performance is below, anyway, and it’s all still a great secret how they actually do the transformation!  

Original post 22 April 2020: It’s a once-every-five-years event, and this was to be the year, but it won’t be now because of covid19. Organizers have expressed their sadness that La Danza de los Enanos (the Dance of the Dwarves), part of La Palma’s fiesta in honour of the island’s patron saint, the Bajada de la Virgen de Las Nieves (the descent of our lady of the snows) will not take place this summer as scheduled.

The dwarves only dance once every five years – and 2015 was the last such year. Interpretations of the dwarves and their dance vary. Some see it as connected with fertility and the summer solstice, while others see it more in line with the murga parodies and satire of the carnivals. Whatever its roots, the video below gives an idea of how it all works. The participants walk into one side of a very small tent dressed as bishops, and walk straight out the other side as the dwarves who then perform their traditional dance throughout the night in the heavy costumes at various parts of La Palma’s capital, Santa Cruz. No-one to this day really knows how they do the amazing transformation, other than those who play the dwarves themselves, and they aren’t saying, and since the rights to perform are often kept within families, they aren’t likely to.

It’s not yet able to be confirmed whether the event will be rescheduled for next year, and if so whether subsequent events will run five-yearly from then, or whether this will just lapse for this cycle.

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