Azorean in origin, the Vasco da Gama Folklore Dancing Group was formed in 1979 with the objective of maintaining the Portuguese culture through music, song, dance and traditional costumes from the island of Sao Miguel, Azores, given that the majority of Portuguese residents and descendants living in Bermuda are from Sao Miguel.
Bermuda witnessed a large influx of Portuguese immigrants, specifically from 1950 and onwards, as Azoreans chose Bermuda as their destination of choice for emigration. Accordingly, and given the significance of this community in Bermuda, the Group strive to maintain and demonstrate the cultural dances and traditions specific to Sao Miguel, Azores.
The folklore dances of Sao Miguel, Acores can be traced as far back as the 17th Century and can be significantly different depending on the different geographical regions. The Group through their live performances takes the audience on a journey through the many regions of Sao, Miguel, Acores through dances such as “Chamarrita”, “Bailo da Povacao” and “Pezinho da Vila”.
The traditional folklore costumes have seen a few changes over the years, specifically as it relates to material colours. The introduction of more vibrant colours such as blue which represents the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean which surround the islands and pink, the colour of the Azalea flower which is the national flower of Sao Miguel, Azores.
Also worth mentioning are the instruments that accompany the dancers such as the “Guitar of the Land” a traditional Azorean guitar, the accordion, the triangle and drum that when played together produce a melody and beat that is incomparable.
A symbol of our culture, the folklore dances are still widely practiced and applauded in different festivities both locally and internationally. The Group regularly performs for the Portuguese festivals held in Bermuda such as “Santo Cristo dos Milagres” and the “Feast of the Holy Ghost” and at local events such as Harbour Nights, the Bermuda Agricultural Exhibition, Bermuda Day Parade, at hotels and for other private functions.
The Group has taken part in Portuguese Festivals in Fall River, Massachusetts. I addition, the Group has also had the honor of performing for the Queen of England and, more recently, representing Bermuda in Norfolk, Virginia at the International Virginia Tattoo as part of the Virginia Arts Festival which was celebrating America’s 400 Anniversary, alongside The Bermuda Regiment Band, The Bermuda Islands Pipe Band and H&H Gombey Troupe. The Group also had the honor of performing at Bermuda’s 400 Anniversary celebrations.
Through their performances, the Group keeps their culture alive and shares it with many other cultures in Bermuda and internationally and aspires to educate, stimulate, develop, encourage, cultivate, sponsor and promote public interest, awareness, appreciation and understanding of the traditional culture and language of Portugal.