Honoring Puerto Ricos’ three cultures

‘Tres Culturas, Un Puerto Rico’ combined song and dance to unify Puerto Ricans

Camila Martinez Rivera, Photo Editor

On Nov. 11, 2022, the Sociedad Herencia Puertorriqueña put on the “Tres Culturas, Un Puerto Rico” event. This event’s purpose was to bring together the three cultures that make up Puerto Rico. The stories of the natives known as Taínos, Spaniards and Africans were beautifully told through song and dance. 

The presentation started off with the sound of the coqui — a native frog — filling the room. Then it transitioned to a tribal dance called “Ara’huaca Danza Taina.” During this performance, a man in a tribal costume — a feather headpiece, beaded anklets and a red breechcloth — performs a tribal dance to a drum-heavy song. The song playing was amplified by the performers’ clapping, stomping, expressive movements and the sound of his beaded anklets.

Next, the Spaniards were introduced. The Spaniards came to Puerto Rico looking to conquer and found themselves entangled with the Taínos. The next song and dance that played was Bomba. Bomba is a well-known dance in Puerto Rico. Women came out in big skirts in the colors of the Puerto Rican flag, and the men in traditional clothing — straw hats and a sash with a white star on it. The music played along with Bomba is lively with Guiros, bongos, congas and guitars. The women and men danced together, cheering and singing along with the music. The Spaniard dances were far more romantic and lively than the powerful dance of the Taíno. 

The next dance was performed by a strong African woman, called “La Majestad Negra,” or the Black Majesty. Her costume consisted of an all gold dress and jewelry. Her dance was made up of tribal movements and cheering sounds. During her performance of the song and dance, the band and additional dancers joined her on the stage, growing the performance. As the music got louder, so did her dance and the audience started cheering loudly with the song. 

Finally, the three different groups turned into one after years of coexisting. The last performance was a grand dance incorporating the tribal movements of the Taínos and Africans with the Spaniards’ romantic dance. It was truly a beautiful representation and celebration of the culture that is Puerto Rico. During this performance, those in their seats got up and danced in the aisle. The band also got up and came to the front of the stage to celebrate. There was a special moment between the percussionist and the dancers in this final song. The two took turns performing solos, and as they each went to the front, they would bow to the drummer and the drummer to the dancer. Overall, the “Tres Culturas, Un Puerto Rico” event was a celebration of Puerto Rico’s culture and rich history. The three distinct cultures came together in their final performance, with an incredibly lively audience, performers and band. Although the audience was all in separate seats, the room felt united.