Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mi Pollera Tan Bonita

Dressed in a large colorful flowing skirt and top, tons of jewelry, and a head full of gold and pearls is how I spent many Saturdays of my childhood. And even though I was accustom to wearing mi pollera, I had no idea how significant it was to my parent’s home country of Panamá.
My parent’s generation was the first to come to the U.S., and they did their best to teach my generation about Panamá’s history and culture. That involved all the kids learning and performing Panamanian Típico dances.
Tamika_Burgess_Mi_PolleraPanameña Tamika Burgess grew up performing Panamanian Típico dances (Image: Tamika Burgess)
Twice a month mi mamá and mis tías gathered everyone together to learn Típico and various things about Panamá. All of us kids dreaded spending our Saturdays doing this. We were young, so the importance of what we were learning didn’t matter to us.
After months of practicing we learned full dance routines and started performing at cultural events. For these performances we wore traditional Panamanian clothing: polleras for the girls, montunos for the boys.
Mi pollera was orange and white, and was trimmed with dark green ribbon. With detailed embroidery and handmade lace; la pollera is an off the shoulder blouse and a two piece skirt. Wearing mi pollera was like playing dress-up; it was the only time mi mamá would let me wear lipstick. Adding to the playing dress-up fantasy was all the gold jewelry that I got to wear.
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