Text: Anthony Tareg, OTV; Photos: Pucci, Creative Global Press
The annual “Gagil Day” was celebrated by the people of Gagil municipality of Yap, FSM, Saturday July 28th 2012. Participants were treated to local delicacies and local dances from the women, men and children of Gagil. Among the many who were invited, the list included top state officials, local chiefs from around island as well visiting international guests.
The event started early afternoon and by then most of the visitors were treated to many of the local foods that had been prepared for guests to take part in. LocalTuba, fermented coconut juice, had also been passed around for visitors to partake and have a swig to help enjoy the dances. As always the local dances were the biggest highlights of the day.
The dancers were all dressed in local attire, showing vibrant colored grass skirts, thuws , local attires only worn by men, headdresses, local coconut oil and turmeric that covered their bodies. As the tradition goes, the proud teacher chases the evil spirits away and asks for a very good performance.
Preparations for this day entails lots of logistics. Dance preparations is no exception. Dancers prepare months in advance to reach perfection. Yapese dances are very meticulously drawn out and have to be performed with little or no mistakes. The dance is first rehearsed and performed in front of family and friends who correct them. Head, body and hand movements are really what most defines the quality of a dance. These movements are usually is scrutinized by other villagers who secretly learn whilst watching in hopes to refine the local art.
Of course with dance, they always tell a story. Most of them tell stories of brave voyages made to Palau to bring back the famed “stone money” and some of them tell tales of how the Yapese people endured the hardships of Spanish, German and Japanese rule during the 1800′s and 1900′s.
As the sun began to set in the west, the final dance from the Men of Gagil mesmerized all as the sound of heavy footsteps and loud chanting broke the silence of the evening while Tuba was being shared to liven up the moods of the elders and chiefs. As the dancers chanted the high notes of the last refrain of the dance, satisfied that they had performed well, the crowd began to leave in laughing and sharing the highlights of a another successful Gagil day.