Las Catrachas del Cerro de Plata (Honduran folk dance, textile arts)
Las Catrachas del Cerro de Plata are "the new kids on the block." The 5-member group of young mothers started just about a year ago with the purpose of teaching their children about their roots and love for their native Honduras.
Sandra and Lily Henríquez are sisters from Tegucigalpa, Honduras' capital. Patricia Silva is their close friend who was born in Comayahuela. Now in the US, they live close to each other, in Sevierville, Tennessee. Dressed in homecrafted white traditional Honduran costumes accented with brightly colored ribbon, they shared with us some memories and reasons for developing their folk dance troupe.
Sandra explains, "We love our country very much. We want to teach our children our culture, where we come from. We also want to teach people here what Honduras means, what we do [in Honduras.] All those reasons led us to start this group, for others to get to know our culture."
Lily states they had a desire to found a Honduran folk dance group for a long time. It was hard at the beginning because of their lack of time, and fear of the level of commitment from some people they had invited to join. An opportunity to parade and perform at Knoxville's HoLa Festival helped them set a goal.
How did the group choose its name? Lily explains, "Most of us are from Tegucigalpa. In the eighteenth century, silver mining flourished in Tegucigalpa. And Tegucigalpa is known as "Cerro de Plata" (Silver Mountain)".21
Sandra continues, "And well, catrachas is a traditional Honduran dish. It is basically a fried corn tortilla, topped with refried beans and a little bit of cheese. They are well known, delicious, and so easy to cook." Because of that dish, all people born in Honduras are called "catrachos" or "catrachas". It is a nickname for Hondurans.22 The troupe's artistic name means Hondurans from Tegucigalpa. Las Catrachas del Cerro de Plata definitely is a better-sounding name!
The costumes are beautiful. "Each one of us made her own dress," Lily proudly said. Lily is an experienced seamstress. "We had to travel to Knoxville to find fabric… it is not exactly the same [as costumes in Honduras] but we found some materials. Some things we had to order to be shipped from Honduras, like the colorful jarritos and trencillas (different types of ribbon) that decorate the dress." If they had had better material at hand, the costumes could have had more elaborate decoration, Sandra explained.
Las Catrachas came to Sevierville between 2005 and 2007. Individually, they each have different talents and traditions that they continue now in United States. Sandra explains they learned mostly from their mom, who had a gift of creating things with her hands. She could sew clothes. She cooked and baked too. All the children helped make jalea de mango (mango jelly) to help the family’s economy. But teaching her daughters to be good mothers and wives was probably Sandra’s mother most important job.
"It is part of our culture that a mother teaches her daughters the role of a mom, it is very important. From a very early age, girls are trained for that important role, and they are trained in cooking, sewing, child caring, cleaning the house, it is part of our culture that is passed on from one generation to the next."
Las Catrachas would like to encourage others to join their group, they need male dancers especially. Dancing is something new to them. They have learned El baile de la Rosa. When asked to finish up with a "catracho" saying (hear audio), Sandra cheerfully claimed, "We are a solid group, and we need to keep hard at it. And who said fear, oh well!” And in unison, "Que viva Honduras!"
Watch Video 63: Sandra Henríquez de Matute explains the reason of creating this dance troupe. Video by Rafael Casco.
Listen to Audio 64: Sandra Henríquez de Matute Honduran cheers. Audio by Rafael Casco.
Photo 61: Las Catrachas del Cerro de Plata Honduran troupe, including (from left) Sandra Henríquez de Matute, her sister Lily Henríquez de Flores, and friend Patricia Silva. They each made their own Honduran costume. Photo by Rafael Casco.
Photo 62: Las Catras del Cerro de Plata in traditional attire, show symbols of their native Honduras; (from left) Lily Henríquez with some plantains, a staple of Honduran cuisine; Sandra Henríquez with a Honduran craft by Rafael Casco; and Patricia Silva with a basket of rosquetes. Photo by Rafael Casco.