Folk Dance Festival
Portuguese Canadian Club of Vaughan
Rancho da Nazaré
If a person is too individualistic they end up ruining the other person’s dance and it goes along the circle like that ruining the whole dance. A lot of people don’t understand it if they don’t know what rancho is about – Carlos Calado.
The Portuguese Canadian Club of Vaughan has organized an annual festival of ranchos folclóricos since 2015, which draws folk dance troupes from across Ontario. Among them is Toronto’s Rancho da Nazaré, the first folk dance troupe in North America and one of the first Portuguese organizations in Canada, founded in 1959; and Vaughan’s Rancho Os Antigos, one of the most recent folk dance troupes, founded by Portuguese-Canadians who grew up dancing rancho in similar organizations.
Ranchos folclóricos (folk dance troupes) have been one of the most popular forms of cultural expression among Portuguese immigrants and descendants, and arguably continues to be the default expression of Portuguese ethnic identity in multicultural Canada. Ranchos were largely invented by the Estado Novo’s propagandists in the 1950s as a supposedly ancestral national tradition imbued with the ruralist conservative values promoted by the dictatorship. The romanticized traditions of Portuguese rural life represented in the ranchos intersect with the idyllic nostalgia for the countryside and the seaside, where most Portuguese immigrants come from. Canada’s “dress, diet, and dance” multiculturalism of the 1970s was a fertile ground for the regime’s diplomats to promote rancho as authentic Portuguese culture and use it for advertising tourism and trade. Unaware of its politics, Portuguese descendants have drawn their own meanings from ranchos and adapted them to their diasporic contexts, as spaces of community gathering, language acquisition and retention, cultural transmission, and marriage match-making.
Founded in 1959, the Rancho da Nazaré of Toronto is one of the first organizations created by Portuguese immigrants in Canada and possibly the oldest rancho in North America. This dance troupe was created by a group of newcomers from Nazaré, a fishing town in the northern-central mainland. Over the years, this rancho has been associated with various organizations, including the First Portuguese Canadian Club, St. Christopher House, the Nazaré Club, and the Portuguese Club of Mississauga. Some of the highlights in its long history include: winning the first prize in a folk festival at the O’Keefe Centre in 1964, where they received an award from the hands of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson; performing in 1965 at the unveiling of the statue of the sixteenth-century Portuguese navigator Gaspar Corte-Real, located outside of the legislature building in St. John’s, Newfoundland; participating in the Montreal Summer Olympics’ opening ceremonies in 1976; and featuring in the music video for Nelly Furtado’s 2003 single “Powerless (Say What You Want).” The Rancho Os Antigos of the Portuguese Cultural Club of Vaughan is one of the most recent folk dance troupes founded in Ontario. Its creation reflects the movement of Portuguese Canadians to the suburbs.
Hora dos Portugueses