Folklorist Normandía Maldonado dies, ambassador of Dominican culture in the USA

The well-known folklorist Normandía Maldonado, native of Santiago de los Caballeros and collected as the ambassador of Dominican culture in the United States, passed away at 89 years of age.

One version says that he went into exile in the United States in the decade of the fifties, after henchmen of the Intelligence Service (SIM) of the dictatorship of Trujillo, executed several relatives of his, accused of robbing the branch of the Royal Bank of Canada in Santiago, she was one of the founders of the Dominican Parade in Manhattan and creator of the Folkloric Ballet Quisqueya.

The dictator ordered the assassination of all participants and close or distant relatives of the alleged robbers, and Normandy managed to escape the persecution.

The folklorist, until her death, because of health complications from diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, remained for decades directing cultural and community entities, and never ceased in her activism until her final day.

She was born in 1929 in Santiago de los Caballeros and, since she was a little girl, she inclined her vocation for arts and dance. Hundreds of young people were trained in their shelter in New York and with her, they began to know the folkloric of the Dominican Republic, with the classic costumes with the colors of the flag and the typical hat of cane, which identified her ballet.

She was also a mentor of the José Ovidio García choir, directed by Margarita Espadilla, and dedicated herself to teaching children about Dominican traditions and customs in both the Dominican Republic and New York.

He produced several radio and television programs dedicated to the dissemination of Creole culture and the history of folklore.

The Ballet Quisqueya Centro Cultural was founded in 1967 and was co-founder of the Juan Pablo Duarte Cultural Civic Center in 1966, the second oldest Dominican institution in New York.

Normandía came to the United States in 1960 as a member of the cast of “Look for That Man”, a Cuban theater film produced by the Caribbean Alliance. She decided to leave the world of acting after finishing the film, but decided to make the United States her permanent residence and began working as a seamstress in a clothing factory to make ends meet.

She began her career in New York as a dancer, teacher and community activist. In 1962 he formed the group Mambo Girlstogether with his sister Marina Maldonado. With that group, he traveled around the world performing on local and national television stations.

During one of her performances at the Lincoln Center, she met her husband, who was an internationally renowned singer, and met with Juan Paulino and Victor Liriano, two brilliant student leaders from the community in Upper Manhattan.

Along with Paulino and Liriano, he conceived the idea of ​​a statue of Juan Pablo Duarte, which was unveiled in 1978, after years of struggle.

He participated for decades in the Parade of Hispanidad and in a presentation of Santo Domingo Canta y Baila in the old San Juan Theater.

In 1967, the original group adopted the name of Ballet Quisqueya that gave way to the Cultural Center Quisqueya Ballet, which since its foundation, has maintained its mission to promote Dominican culture and folk music internationally, bringing attention to this kind of classic dances like merengue and mangulina.

The center also works to educate Dominicans, particularly the second generation and other nationalities about the different musical rhythms and the rich Dominican cultural heritage.

In 1982, she founded the Casandra Damirón Hall of Fame to honor the Dominican artists and celebrities that have a wall in the Dominican consulate in New York.

In recent years, Normandy received dozens of recognitions for his work in the Dominican community of elected officials, including former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, former councilman Guillermo Linares, then Assemblyman Adriano Espadilla, current councilman Ydanis Rodríguez, various official and community institutions.

By Miguel Cruz Tejada

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