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Arts of Santa Marta

“Magical Realism  is a genre where magic elements are a natural part in an otherwise mundane, realistic environment. Although it is most commonly used as a literary genre, magic realism also applies to film and the visual arts.”

Some great writers set the stage for the emergence of Latin America’s Magical Realism. Preceded by the works of Borges, Carpentier, Uslar-Pietri, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the father of magical realism in literature, his masterpiece 100 Years of Solitude being a culmination of the key elements of what makes literature magical: fantastical elements in a real-world setting, authorial reticence, plenitude, hybridity, metafiction, political critique, and heightened awareness of mystery.

Most of Garcia Marquez’s works play with the surreal of the mundane, even his journalistic-style novella Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
Music and dance:  Santa Marta, like her sister city, Cartagena, has music  rich in texture with Caribbean, Indigenous, African, and Spanish influences.  They share many of the same dance traditions.

Vallenato – originally from la Guajira and Cesar – it has become one of the Colombian coast’s favorite musical expressions.

Cumbia --  danced, in the classic tradition, or sung, in contemporary versions, the cumbia, is one of Colombia’s most representative musical expressions. Played with Caribbean bag pipes, drums, maracas, and horns, it was a dance created by slaves to communicate with one another and express themselves.  It’s a seduction dance in which the woman acts submissive while the man dances around her, alluring her. It’s often danced with candles – as the slave women had to sneak out into the night to the men’s quarters, guiding each other with the candles they held in their hands.

El Bullerengue (meaning, “maternity skirt”) – derived from the Cumbia, this is only danced by women while men sing or clap their hands in rhythm with the music. Captivating African rhythms mark the step of the women who, wearing large skirt that symbolize fertility and offerings, dance in a way similar to the cumbia.

La Puya – originally from Magdalena, dating back to 1885, this is a lively, happy dance that’s fast. There isn’t a lot of choreography, as partners dance freely, together. 


Jose Benito Barros: Composer and musician of popular and folk Colombian music. He’s most known for his compositions La piragua, Momposina, La Llorona Loca, El gallo tuerto, and Las pilanderas. He was the founder of the Cumbia festival en el Banco.

Carlos Vives: He’s known around the world for his vallenatos. He won the Latin Grammy in 2002 for Dejame Entrar and 2005 for El Rock de mi Pueblo. This charismatic figure is one of Colombia’s favorite music icons.

Plastic arts: Santa Marta and Magdalena have been the birth place of some of Colombia’s great artists including: Luis Magin, Jitoma Sofiame – Carlos Juez, Hernando del Villar Sierra, Zarita Abello de Bonilla,  Angel Almendrales Viadero, Teresa Sanchez Camargo.

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