Perspectives on Punta Dance: Purificación "Popo" Arriola López
  Popo performs the punta, which he calls a "mystic dance." Triunfo de la Cruz, Honduras. August 1998. Photo credit: Drew Irwin.  

Purificación "Popo" Arriola López
Director of the Barauda Dance Troupe
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

The Garífuna doesn’t dance only to dance. Dancing has meaning and isn't just about happiness. Besides, the first Garífunas always danced at funerals. Punta is a mystic dance that has various explanations. First of all, it is a ritual dance that is performed so the body goes to rest, wishing it peace and love in its new state. This is because the spirit stays at home. And the other belief is that the human being is born crying and is buried singing. This is the meaning of the punta dance.

In Garífuna culture, when punta is danced, a circle is formed that represents the vital circle of life. It is where water, wind, sun, fire, and everything that composes us – which is the cosmos – comes together. And the linear movements of the feet represent the infinite. The toes grab onto the sand, bound like a small worm. In other words, the circle is formed by incorporating the body in various forms. It starts spinning from one side, to the left and then to the right. There is one foot that serves as an axle so that you don't move. And that is how the circle is formed. It produces linear figures. Their explanation of cosmic life is infinite.

This is the contact with nature. It serves to strengthen the equilibrium that should exist between man and his cosmovision - which is the equilibrium of life. Also, it serves as security when the linear movements break with the infinite. This ritual connection is made in punta because for every death it is believed that one or more must be born to maintain the species. This is the meaning of punta.

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Credit: Interview and transcription by InCorpore Cultural Association© with Purificaci‹n "Popo" Arriola L‹pez ; July 1998. All rihts reserved. Edited and translated by K.Stevens, Stanford Center for Latin American Studies, 2/1/00.