Essay "São Gonçalo's Dance"


Legend has it that São Gonçalo took the prostitutes out of the profession by taking them to dance. He made them so exhausted that he kept them from "practicing their master." He also played viola and danced with them, happily, but having nails in his shoes that hurt his feet, to make it clear that he was not amused.

The same dances are repeated today in the interior of Brazil.


Barefoot, in white and demure clothes, without watches, earrings, rings, lipstick or any type of ornament, six women and four men - who play fiddle, tambourine, adumbra and viola - gather in a terreiro to play and dance . Like São Gonçalo, they are not there to have fun. The goal now is to pay a promise made to this saint.

The seriousness of the event is evident in the faces, concentration and dedication of the dancers. The choreography that lasts about 30 minutes and repeats up to 12 times is exhaustive. Tiredness is evident, but the promise needs to be paid regardless of whether the grace has been achieved or not. The mere fact of doing so already brings with it the debt. Not even death exempts a person from paying off the debt with the saint.

São Paulo - Brasil