Brazilian folk woman

Jeep enters the Brazilian folk dance for the 75 years of the "Queen of the Ciranda"

A Book, an exhibit and a party to celebrate the anniversary and the trajectory of singer Lia de Itamaracá, Living Cultural Heritage of Pernambuco

February 6, 2019 - A stunning woman, one hundred and eighty centimeters tall, long fingers, strong voice and broad smile, Maria Madalena Correia do Nascimento transformed her home island of Itamaracá, on the northern coast of Pernambuco, into her artistic surname. She became "Lia de Itamaracá" at the age of 12, when she began to participate in the "Ciranda". The "Ciranda" is a cultural manifestation marked by a dance in which people hold hands and move rhythmically and harmoniously forming a large circle. "I lost count of how many times I went to the Jaguaribe beach to sing and dance the ciranda", she recalls. "But it was there that the desire to become a cirandeira, the person who cheers and livens up the ciranda".

Six decades later, Lia has accumulated other titles: "Queen of the Ciranda", "Brazil's greatest ciranda dancer", "diva of black music" and, since 2005, "Living Cultural Heritage" of the State of Pernambuco. In an excerpt from the book, Lia explains what it was like to receive this last title: "I was doing my thing as always. I have lots of love for it all. I don't get tired, I don't give up. I like the ciranda, I love the culture. If I deserve this kind of homage it's the people who should decide". After having taken the Pernambuco culture to countries like France, Germany, Portugal and England, it was time to record her history in a book. "Lia de Itamaracá: 75 years celebrating with endurance, smiles and simplicity" was produced with the sponsorship of Jeep, who also supported the "Ciranda Queen" exhibition. The 80-page edition (for sale by the email documenting Lia’s life through reports and photos is from SinsPire publisher located on Rua da Guia, Bairro do Recife and now housing an exhibit open to the public until Carnival (March 5).

“In the 75 years of Lia's life, we express our recognition for the essential role of the Arts in people's lives and the warm welcome we received from the people of Pernambuco”, says Fernão Silveira, Director of Corporate Communication and Sustainability at FCA for Latin America. For him, encouraging the creation of the book, rather than honoring a great artist, is to recognize the importance, richness and strength of popular culture in the region where the Jeep Automotive Plant has been present since 2015.

Lia de Itamaracá

Curator of the book and the celebrations around the 75 years of Lia de Itamaracá, Maria Luciana Nunes was always infatuated with the Ciranda Queen and had a dream to contribute to the history. "That's when I had the idea to make a book about her life, an exhibition and her birthday in Recife. In fact, it was the first time she was celebrating a new year of life outside Itamaracá", she says, referring to January 12 as the singer's birthday.

Lia is the only one of a family of 18 brothers and sisters who decided to follow the artistic path. "The gift that I have came from God. In my family, nobody sings, nobody dances. I was the only one who wanted to be an artist and I am one. I'm Lia", she says, happy with her trajectory. Although singing was all that Lia ever dreamed of in her life, for 30 years she also worked in the cafeteria serving lunches at the State School of Jaguaribe until she retired in 2010. "Of course that working in the cafeteria is not dishonoring to me, but music has always been my dream", she says.

 Lia de Itamaracá while autographing a book

Among the dresses used in shows, paintings and personal objects - such as the box of letters -, taken from Lia's house to give life to the exhibition, Luciana highlights the strength of the dancer. "We have had tremendous collaboration to accomplish all this. We made partnerships with several artists and with Jeep, which already had this very careful outlook with Lia and wanted to encourage and preserve the culture of Pernambuco.

"Although she describes the process of creating her own book as being "easy," Lia de Itamaracá reveals that she had never thought about having her life written, but says she is happy with the result, calling it the "great moment" of a long biography. "Faced with so much resistance to maintain the Ciranda alive, it is very important to feel that one is valued. All this was done out of love for Lia and the popular culture", she says, using the third person to talk about herself. To the regional artists, Lia sends a message: "If you want to resist and bring the ciranda to the world, don't give up. Later, it will thrive. Sadness never beats those who are happy".

Words: Isabela Alves

Pictures: Alfeu Tavares (top) and Henrique Lima

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