How Venezuelan Folk Music Honors the Land

How Venezuelan Folk Music Honors the Land

From left: Miguel wears his own clothes. Greimar wears her own Joropo dress


Photographs by Silvana Trevale

Styling by Daniela Benaim

Joropo is a genre of music and dance practiced in the grasslands of Colombia and Venezuela. Folk music forms a central part of the local culture, setting both the rhythm of daily life and the tune for celebrations. 

Silvana Trevale is a Venezuelan photographer based in London. Her work, which blends documentary and fashion, seeks to celebrate the human body and the world around her. This project, shot for Atmos Magazine Volume 8: Rhythm, took her back to the plains of Venezuela, where her family is from. She went to document Joropo, a genre of music which draws its inspiration directly from nature. The music, called la musica llanera, gets its name from the word “llano,” Spanish for plains. The environment, Travale said, was enchanting. She witnessed the most beautiful sunrises of her life and experienced music at every turn. Through her photos, she hopes to transmit the joy of her country and culture. 

Two Venezuelan women, a child, and a baby are in front of a colorful home in Venezuela.
From left: Carmen wears Puerta Negra shirt and Costaiia skirt. Alex is wrapped in a Costaiia skirt. Grecia wears stylist’s Joropo costume. Janetzi wears Yenny Bastida top and skirt, Waivori necklace
A Venezuelan man plays a string instrument
Fredy wears Puerta Negra shirt
A young Venezuelan girl and a little boy dance together on the plains of Venezuela.
Traditionally and to this day, llano work songs are sung to calm cattle while they are milked in the dark of the early morning. The songs are seldom written down or recorded; rather they are passed down orally across generations. (From left: Luisamar wears No Pise La Grama dress. Mathias wears his own clothes)
A young Venezuelan boy stands in front brightly painted Venezuelan home with large plants in front of it. His arms are stretched out to the sides, holding onto his garment.
The boy holding an outstretched tablecloth represents a bird called the guarandol. In this traditional dance, the guarandol is being hunted, and the children pray that the hunter doesn’t kill the bird. (José Gregorio wears Puerta Negra shirt and trousers, custom-made Guarandol hat and shoes)
An older Venezuelan man stands amid the Venezuelan plains staring straight ahead.
Armando wears M.A. Espinoza suit, stylist’s own hat
Four Venezuelan men wearing straw hats and collared shirts stand among each other, looking toward the camera.
Four Venezuelan men sit on their horses in a stable in Venezuela.
La musica llanera was born from a blend of cultures. After the fandango was brought over by Spanish colonization, the Indigenous people of Venezuela and formerly enslaved people from Africa who had escaped to the plains reinterpreted this music and its associated dance.  (Eleuterio, Jose, Victor, and Andres wear Puerta Negra shirts)
A young Venezuelan man dressed in a straw hat, a collared shirt, and high waisted jeans leans against his horse in a stable in Venzuela.
Josein wears Puerta Negra shirt, his own jeans
A Venezuelan man wearing a straw hat and a pink shirt turns his back toward the camera.
A young Venezuelan man wearing a large straw hat and a brown collared shirt looks up toward the sky.
Andres wears Puerta Negra shirt, stylist’s hat
A young Venezuelan woman holding a baby stands in front of a horse stable. She has colorful wings attached to her back.
Luisa wears Costaiia vest and skirt, custom-made wings by Robin Morales
A young Venezuelan woman sits in front of a bright pink Venezuelan home.
Miriam wears vintage bridal dress
Many Venezuelan dancers dance to joropo on the plains of Venezuela.
From left: Greimar wears her own Joropo dress. Miguel wears his own clothes. Grecia wears stylist’s Joropo costume. Model wears Yenny Bastida top and skirt. Juan wears his own clothes. Jhosmari wears her own Joropo dress. Guayacán wears his own suit and hat. Fredy wears Puerta Negra shirt, his own trousers. Rubén Barrios wears M.A. Espinoza suit. Mathias wears his own clothes. Luisamar wears No Pise La Grama dress.
A young Venezuelan woman in a white dress stands up inside a boat with a man sitting behind her rowing them through the water.
From left: Victor wears his own clothes. Luisa wears No Pise La Grama dress
A young Venezuelan man stands in front of large green trees on the plains of Venezuela.
Juan wears his own clothes
A large cross adorned in flowers and colorful ribbons blowing in the wind, sits amid the plains of Venezuela.
Two Venezuelan dancers are in mid dance on the plains of Venezuela.
From left: Juan wears his own clothes. Jhosmari wears her own Joropo dress
Three Venezuelan dancers dressed in colorful dresses are in mid dance on the plains of Venezuela.
Folk singer Simón Díaz brought la musica llanera to the world. One of the songs he performed, called “Alma Llanera” (which translates to “Soul of the Plains”), is considered Venezuela’s unofficial second national anthem. The song was created in the early 1900s by Venezuelan musicians Pedro Elías Gutiérrez and Rafael Bolívar Coronado. “La Vaca Mariposa,” another of his songs, is an allegory of the Virgin Mary and the birth of Jesus Christ.

TALENT Miguel Carrero, Greimar Espinoza, Juan de Dios Castillo, Jhosmari Mirabal, Grecia Valentina Orlando Zapata, Luisamar Yecenia Hernández Viña, Mathias Gael Castillo Acuña, Carmen Gregoria Zapata Hernández, Janetzi Gutierrez, Alex Manuel Orlando Zapata, Miriam Rojas, Armando Medina, José Gregorio Hernández, Luisa Fernanda González Hernández, Guayacán (Rafael Alberto Cabeza Aular), Fredy Guedez, Rubén Barrios, Luisa Marina Gonzalez Hernandez, Eleuterio Antonio Pulido Aquino, Josein Nazareth Garcia Ortega, Victor Blanco, Andres Seijas, Miriam Rojas, Haschly Lusia González Hernández, Jhosmari Mirabal, Luisa Marina Gonzalez Hernandez, Greimar Espinoza, Lucrecia Bolivar MAKEUP Judith Padron HAIR Judith Padron TALENT DIRECTOR Sorelia Franco PRODUCTION Sorelia Franco, Dana Chocron PROP MAKER Victoria Maldonado CULTURAL CONSULTANT Juan Vicente Carrillo-Batalla PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT Gustavo Vera Febres-Cordero STYLING ASSISTANT Victoria Maldonado SPECIAL THANKS Sorelia Franco, Hato La Fe, Juan Vicente Carrillo, Guayacan Aular, Escuela de Joropo Al Son De La Alpargata FILM DIRECTOR Silvana Trevale FILM STYLIST AND ART DIRECTOR Daniela Benaim FILM Photography DIRECTOR Gustavo Vera Febres-Cordero FILM Styling Assistant and Prop STYLIST Victoria Maldonado FILM EDITOR and Sound DESIGNER J. Leo Arreaza FILM COLOURIST Sergio Porras FILM PRODUCER Sorelia Franco FILM Make up and Hair Judith Padron FILM Cultural Consultant Juan Vicente Carrillo-Batalla

This article first appeared in Atmos Volume 08: Rhythm with the headline “In Step.”

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