The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has just named the Cocolo Dance Theater of San Pedro de Macoris, a “Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in its third proclamation of 42 masterpieces that took place in Paris on 25 November. Popularly known as the Guloyas, these magical figures perform dances during holiday feasts and carnival time. According to tradition, these dance groups were formed during the 1920s by Thepphilius Civerton. Civerton had arrived from the island of Nevis in 1923.
The story is even older. Coming from the English-speaking islands of the Caribbean to work in the sugar industry, the “cocolos” – originally coined as an insult but later evolving into a cultural term – brought their dances and many of their customs. This year, the traditional dances, held from 25 December until 6 January will be different – they are now part of the World’s Cultural Heritage.
UNESCO designates intangible forms of art, including oral expression, music, rituals and social practices. This is the UNESCO’s third proclamation of the kind. A combined 47 masterpieces were chosen in the first two proclamations. The traditional rituals of The Brotherhood of the Holy Spirit of the Congos of Villa Mella in the Province of Santo Domingo were recognized in the first UNESCO proclamation of oral and intangible manifestations held on 18 May 2001.
For more information on the cocolos dance, see http://www.jmarcano.com/mipais/cultura/cocolo2.html#deporte
For more information on the proclamations, see http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/ev.php-URL_ID=2226…