Keeping the Portuguese Dance Alive

Keeping the Portuguese Dance Alive

Photos from 1511 O’Maliao Maliao Dance Troupe FB page

The Portuguese Settlement is a quiet and peaceful little enclave in Melaka. But whenever there is something to celebrate, the place comes alive with dance and music.

The Portuguese continue to keep their arts and culture alive and their traditional or folk dances, of which there are 15 variations, are an integral part of that tradition. Among the more popular variations are the Cianika and Farapeira.

One person who has spent most of his life to promote these traditional dances is Gerard de Costa, through his dance troupe 1511 O’ Maliao Maliao. He is full of enthusiasm whenever he is asked to talk about his passion for dance.

The 1511 O’ Maliao Maliao – made up of 20 to 22 members – is likely the only Portuguese dance troupe left in Malaysia. The dancers don different costumes – from working clothes to colourful traditional attire – for their performances.

De Costa, a second generation troupe leader, began to perform in 1974, at the age of 11. Since then, he has worked hard to keep the troupe together to ensure that his community’s tradition is kept alive.

Apart from the traditional Portuguese festivals, the 1511 O’ Maliao Maliao also performs at corporate events. “We go wherever we’re invited to showcase our dance,” de Costa says.

Sadly, troupe will not be performing at this year’s Fiesta San Pedro from June 29 to July 1. “But we are happy to perform at corporate functions,” de Costa says.

The troupe charges between RM2,000 and RM5,000 for each performance, and those interested in hiring them can call 016-684 2502.