The town of Verges, near Girona, is famous for its Dansa de la Mort (“Dance of the Death” or “Macabre Dance”) celebrations every Holy Week, probably the last remaining Dance of Death in Europe, performed uninterruptedly since the Middle Ages.
The Procession at Verges is Festival of National Interest and the annual portrayal of a traditional mystery play that stems from Medieval Catalan theatre. The Procession takes place exclusively on the night of Maundy Thursday. The Dance of Death stands out as the only component of this procession that has survived uninterruptedly, in a very real way, from Medieval times to the present day; it serves as a reminder that time is transitory.
The Dance of Death group comprises ten people, divided into groups of five. The first group acts out the choreography and the other people add atmosphere to the dance. The five dancers – two adults and three children – are dressed as skeletons and carry symbolic objects: a scythe, flag, clock without hands and plates of ash. The other five figures are dressed in black tunics and move forward following the rhythm but without forming the dance steps.
The Procession of Verges is structured in two parts. The first is a representation of the Passion of Christ and takes place at ten pm in the town square. It enacts the main events of Jesus’ life, with specific emphasis on his betrayal, detention and condemnation. The scenes portray the conversion of the Samaritan woman, Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, the last supper, Judas’ betrayal, the Dance of Death, the Garden of Gethsemane and the handing over of Jesus to Pontius Pilate. The second part takes place at Midnight when a procession winds through the town streets, once Jesus has been condemned to crucifixion and when the actors make their way towards the church; Jesus begins to walk with the cross. At this point in time, the town streets are transformed into the theatre, until the actors return to church, where the procession ends.
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Apologies for the low quality of the video presented but we thought it was interesting nonetheless to illustrate this event.
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Video: © generalbasica