Inter-cultural dance week culminates on July 4 at the Teatro Nacional

By Jackie Hyland

Arts Brigades' Dance Program students from the U.S.
Arts Brigades' Dance Program students from
the U.S. and Panama will
perform with children from
the Malambo orphanege.

It goes beyond politics, race, socioeconomic status, and religion: the simple movement of one’s body to express a multitude of emotions can bring even the farthest parts of the world together. And for a week, this collision of worlds will happen right here in Panama City.

Arts Brigades' Dance Program, partnered with Fundacion DanzaNOVA with support from the U.S. Embassy and the National Institute of Culture (INAC), is leading a week-long event, from June 29 through July 6, that will host 13 dancers from the U.S. to participate in social service combined with dance instruction at the Malambo Orphanage. There will be workshops for the children to learn choreography, enhance self-esteem, learn about the arts, and to simply have fun.

The Concert

The culmination of this week-long event will be a performance by the U.S. and Panamanian choreographers and dancers along with the children from Malambo Orphanage on July 4 at 6:00 p.m. at the Teatro Nacional in Casco Viejo. It is a free event, with a suggested $3 donation at the door.

Throughout this special week there will be various events such as dance performances on the street around the city, “like an everyday part of life, as it should be,” says Global Dance Brigade director Anna Pasternak. She danced professionally in Brazil before coming to work in Panama last year. “Dance is what has developed my own self-confidence, discipline, and empowered me,” Pasternak says, “The arts are also an extremely important part of cultural preservation and development in any community, and unfortunately, often the most overlooked.”

International affiliation

Arts Brigades' Dance Program is a part of Global Brigades, one of the largest student-led international development organizations in the United States. It is U.S. nonprofit that serves as a liaison between students, partner organizations and communities, with the objective of creating sustainable solutions in business, architecture, environment, and law to address the needs of rural villages.

First time in Panama

Students come during their breaks from classes to support and complement the work current partners are doing in a community. Each “brigade,” averaging 10-15 students, takes on a piece of a larger community project, reinforcing the project by contributing their own particular knowledge, perspective, and resources.

This is Arts Brigades' Dance Program’ premier in Panama and the organization hopes to foster many more cultural exchanges through the arts in the future. For more information or questions, feel free to contact Anna Pasternak at

First Lady announces spring fashion show by Carolina Herrera to benefit social causes

World-famous Venezuelan fashion designer Carolina Herrera is coming to Panama. She will present her Spring 2010 line in a fashion show benefit event in June. Organizers hope to raise $1 million to support social development projects that are supported by the office of the First Lady Marta Linares de Martinelli.

At the top of the First Lady’s list of social interest projects is early development, focusing on children’s nutrition, from prenatal to six years of age. She says that it is vital to educate mothers on the importance of proper, balanced nutrition in these formative years for their children.

Carolina Herrera
Carolina Herrera

The cocktail and subsequent fashion show will be take place at ATLAPA Convention Center beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16. Tickets will soon go on sale at the First Lady’s Office in Parque Omar and at the Carolina Herrera boutique in Mall Multiplaza Pacific for $300 and $250.

Nikki de Roy, of Physical Modelos, is assisting the First Lady’s Office in the organization of the event. According to Nikki, all models will be Panamanian and the casting is open to all agencies and independent models. “When Carolina did a similar event in the Dominican Republic,” said Nikki, “the tickets were $1,000 and they sold out.” She considers that $1 million is a reasonable goal for this event, between ticket sales and donations from private enterprises.

Other projects supported by the First Lady are reading to children, English classes, sustainable rural gardens and farms, hip and knee reconstruction, breast reconstruction for cancer survivors, dental reconstruction, cataracts laser surgery, Aids for AIDS, the rennovation of Parque Omar and micro-business startups.

Mark Twain classic presented as musical at Teatro en Circulo

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Jim and Huck sing their
way down “Big River”.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is one of America’s most celebrated works of fiction. A unique opportunity to relive this classic is available for several weeks, in the form of a musical presented on stage – and in Spanish. This story by Mark Twain was adapted for the stage as “Big River”, and director Bruce Quinn is presenting the Spanish-language version, “Rio Grande” from May 18 to June 13 at Teatro en Circulo in El Carmen.

A cast of 28 actors will bring the Tony award-winning musical to life, supported with impressive lighting and sound effects. Ten musicians will perform the musical score live. The music was described by producer Alida Gerbaud de Fabrega as “delicious... a mix of country and gospel”.

Shows are at 7:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Friday and at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost $35.00 (adults), $25.00 (children) y $20.00 (retirees). For reservations call 261-5375.

Expo Carnaval: all the Carnivals in one in ATLAPA

Expo Carnaval
Hoisting the Expo Carnaval flag in Capira.
Calle Arriba and Calle Abajo from Las Tablas showed
off their colorful costumes and headdresses.

See all of Panama’s Carnivals at once at “Expo Carnaval”, to be held on August 19, 20 and 21 at ATLAPA Convention Center. More than ten Carnival celebrations will come together side by side and in all of their glory.

Each Carnival throughout the country is unique, with its own traditions. Often people become acostomed to going to just one of the celebrations and do not ever get a chance to see how this famous Panamanian party goes down in other parts of the country.

This will be the opportunity to enjoy the Carnivals of Capira, Tonosí, Santo Domingo, Las Tablas, Panama City, Chepo, Colón, Parita, La Villa de Los Santos, Chitré, Natá and Penonomé, as each town shows off their unique customs and traditions. Even the Gay Queen will be there.

Last weekend, the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP) held the “hoisting of the flags” act for Carnival Expo 2010, marking the beginning of celebrations. The ATP visited seven towns, from Capira and all the way to Tonosí, with the Expo Carnaval Queen and ambassador of the event, Natasha Alexandra. She is also the current Carnival Queen of Penonomé. In each of the towns she met with the local queen, celebrating and dancing to “murga” music as the convoy arrived.

Expo Carnaval
At the hoisting of the Expo Carnaval flag in Santo Domingo,
Queen Carmen Milagros Bustamante Cano, Panama Tourism Authority (ATP)
Administrator Salomon Shamah and Natasha Alexandra, the Queen of Expo Carnaval.

ATP Administrator Salomon Shamah accompanied the flag hoisting caravan to visit Santo Domingo, where Queen Carmen Milagros Bustamante Cano made a grand loop around Central Park with the Expo Carnaval Queen.

The Carnival is a well-known tradition in Panama, and its popularity is growing abroad with tourists too. The festivities take place 40 days before Lent and Easter. The Panamanian Carnaval is characterized by having “tunas”, groups of supporters who walk behind the queen cheering and singing songs of her beauty to the music of “murgas.” This is a traditional percussion and wind band for the celebration.

There are also “tamboritos”, playhing traditional drum music. At night one goes “cumbia” dancing to the music of a live local band. Carnival is also distinguished by the “culecos”, where revelers are doused with cold water from a fire hose. In the old days, this was called “mojadera”, when the game was a little more innocent, and people would douse each other by surprise using a pail of water.

During Expo Carnaval this August, the “culecos” can be enjoyed outside at ATLAPA Convention Center. All the other traditions and events of the famous Carnival will all take place inside.

Don´t miss it!

Absolutely brilliant!

Last weekend of English-language ‘Improv8’

Watch out Saturday Night Live! Hilary Hughes and
Rita Banús are shining stars of Improv8.

This year’s ‘Improv8’ at The Theatre Guild of Ancón has proven to be everything that its British producers Nick Miles and Danielle Scott promised it to be: bigger and better. The audience-engaging comedy act sold out for two of its three functions last weekend.

The actors have been honing in on their improvisational skills for months in a series of workshops by theatre practitioner Danielle Scott in order to prepare for this quick-witted and spontaneous environment. Audience members call out suggestions to develop the scenes they act out. The final shows are Thursday June 10, Friday June 11 and Saturday June 12, starting at 7:45. Visit to see video clips from last year’s production.

This year is The Guild’s 60th anniversary putting on English-language theatre in Panama. Tickets are $10 and reservations can be made by email: or by phone 6775-0728.

The audience thoroughly enjoyed the shows last weekend.

Country Fairs

Panama’s fairs and festivals are colorful and lively. Country-folk are friendly and welcoming so they are excellent venues for visitors to get a taste of the ‘real’ Panama. See the schedule which follows.

Junio 3-6 Festival de Corpus Cristi Villa de Los Santos
Julio 15-22 Festival de la Pollera en Las Tablas
Agosto 12-15 XXXIX Festival del manito en Ocú
Septiembre 3-5 Expoferia Flor Espiritu Santo en las Minas
Septiembre 14-20 Feria Intl. Del Mar Bocas del Toro
Septiembre 23-26 Festival de la Mejorana en Guararé
Septiembre 29 - Octubre 3 Feria Internacional de Changuinola, Bocas del Toro
Octubre 1-3 Feria de Camarón Arriba Santa Rosa Bugaba, Chiriquí
Octubre 7-10 Feria de Isla Tigre, Kuna Yala
Octubre 13-17 Festival del Torito Guapo en Antón, Coclé
Octubre 22 Festival del Café de Río Sereno, Chiriquí
Noviembre 2 Fiesta de la Vaca Loca, Veraguas
Noviembre 3 Día Nacional, Separación de Panamá de Colombia
Noviembre 5 Día Nacional, Grito de Independencia en Colón
Noviembre 10 Día Nacional, Primer Grito de Independencia en Los Santos
Noviembre 27 Feria de San Andrés en Bugaba, Chiriquí
Noviembre 28 Día Nacional, Independencia de Panamá de España.
Noviembre 29 Día Nacional (Día libre debido al 28 de Noviembre)
Diciembre 8 Día de la madre

Religious festivals

Every city, village and region in Panama has its own annual religious celebration dedicated to a patron saint. These festivals provide a colorful and charming way to experience local traditions and beliefs.

Junio 3-6 Festival de Corpus Cristi Villa de Los Santos
Junio 13 Fiestas Patronales San Antonio de Padua en Puerto Armuelles, Chiriquí
Junio 20 Día del Padre

Canadians and friends meet first Thursday of each month

The Canadian Association of Panama holds its social hour on the first Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at Oldie’s Restaurant on Calle 39, two blocks north of Balboa Avenue in Bella Vista. Members and visitors, Canadian or otherwise, with an interest in “the land of the maple leaf” are cordially invited to enjoy the news sharing, conversation and refreshments.