Women wearing the traditional dresses of the Venezuelan plains region – a skirt with stripes of yellow, blue and red like the national flag and a white off-the-shoulder blouse – greeted the more than 2,000 visitors to the Residence of the Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Washington, DC, on Saturday, May 5th for the annual cultural event known as Passport DC.
All day long, the Bolivarian Hall, the cultural space of the Venezuelan Embassy that is adjacent to the Ambassador’s Residence, was open to the public for music, dancing, and activities for children. The event had an air of fun and entertainment. This is the first year that Venezuela has participated in Passport DC as part of its cultural programming in the U.S. capital.
Guests were given a guided tour of the official residence, where they viewed works of art from Venezuela by famous artists such as Armando Reverón, Manuel Cabré and Héctor Poleo. The public also learned about the country through a photography exhibit featuring the work of the Venezuelan folklore expert Luis Felipe Ramón y Rivera. His work is part of an important collection at Venezuela’s Center for Cultural Diversity in Caracas.
After taking the tour, Venezuelan visitor Karina Sarmiento said: “I really liked learning about the history of this house, and especially for the children, who didn’t know the history of this place. I also loved the traditional dresses from Venezuela.”
Another Venezuelan guest, Alexia Rivera, said: “I was here last year and wanted to come back. As always, the tour was really good.”
Beth Shippler of the U.S. said, “I really enjoyed the tour. It was all really nice.”
Nicole Druen of Sweden also offered her impressions: “For me it was marvelous to see where the ambassador ate and held his meetings. I loved the paintings that decorate the place.”
This year during Passport DC, embassies were asked to feature the work of notable women artists to help celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Venezuela chose to honor Belén Palacios, an Afro-Venezuelan woman who dedicated her life to preserving the traditional percussive instrument called the Quitiplás. Palacios played the Quitiplás, which are made of bamboo, with the women’s musical group Elegguá. They performed for enthusiastic crowds at important venues abroad such as the Kennedy Center and Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. A short video about the life and legacy of Palacios was shown in the Bolivarian Hall and is now available online.
Visitors to the Residence were also given information about Venezuela’s main tourist attractions and enjoyed a refreshing traditional drink made of sugar cane called papelón con límon. Meanwhile, children picked up paint brushes for an activity called “leave your mark on Venezuela,” in which they were invited to offer their own impressions of the South American country.
Children and adults alike helped decorate the Cruz de Mayo (or May Cross), a wooden cross that is adorned with flowers in thanks for blessings received during the year. Many of the day’s visitors also signed up for a raffle whose winners will be announced shortly on the embassy’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
At 4 p.m., the event closed with a concert by the band Sabana y Talento featuring traditional Venezuelan musical styles like joropos played with instruments including the harp and the four-stringed cuatro. A group of African-influenced dancers and drummers also performed on the patio in front of the residence, banging their tambores in honor of the thousands of people who came out to enjoy a day full of the flavors, rhythms and colors of Venezuela.
Passport DC is a month-long event organized by Cultural Tourism, DC, an independent coalition of over 230 cultural organizations, during which about 70 embassies open their doors in Washington, DC, to showcase the traditions of each country.
Watch the photos
Watch the video of the event
Press Office – Embassy of Venezuela to the U.S. / May 7, 2012