Berta Gauto & Panambi Verá: Paraguayan Dance Group
Berta Gauto is originally from Asunción, Paraguay. Her parents hail from Villarrica, a region known as the “cradle of poets and musicians”. Berta is part of an artistic family. Her uncle Diosnel Chase was a well-known traditional singer and songwriter. Her grandfather played polkas, guaranias and chamamé music on the accordion. Berta was most interested in dance and learned at a young age to perform traditional polkas. She learned the La Galopera, a famous dance where women balance bottles and water jars on their heads in a demonstration of grace and balance. She danced for several years with Raína Potí, a folkloric dance company.
Berta moved to Mineola in 2000, where the Paraguayan community numbers around 2000. Soon afterwards she formed the dance group Panambi Verá, which means ‘Golden Butterfly’ in the Guaraní language. She saw dancing as a good way of introducing the American public to Paraguayan culture while at the same time educating the community’s children about their heritage. Today fifteen to twenty Paraguayan teenagers, led by Gauto’s two daughters, perform with the group. The ensemble also includes a musical duo playing Andean harp and guitar. Berta sews most of the beautiful costumes , importing the delicate tela de araña (spider web) lacework from Paraguay. Panambi Verá has an active performance schedule, including appearances at festivals like Manhattan’s Hispanic Heritage parade and annual visits to Boston; they have also performed at the United Nations. They were featured in New York Folklore’s Latino dance initiative and have received recognition from the NY State Council on the Arts. For more information about Berto and Panambi Verá contact Long Island Traditions.