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"Merhed, le chant des femmes"

In one of the most beautiful rooms in all Brittany in the Théatre de Cornouaille four women sang in Breton and in French for an audience of 100 spectators. Dressed in black and white, they sang and at the same time traced the rhythmic steps of a bigouden "round", an "anter-dro", the story of a baby's murder, and of a girl carried off by sailors.

Klervi Rivière, aged 19, sang solo several of the 34 verses of a lengthy dirge (gwerz) written in 1912 to commemorate the sinking of the Titanic.
Faster dances were followed by a song, lucid and melodic in its delivery, its beautiful meandering seeming to be a piercing lament from the sea. During a Pourlet gavotte, sung twice, two couples of traditional dancers came on stage dressed in flowing robes, and illuminated in yellow, their highly coordinated and airborne animations complemented the female choir, which in turn provided a perfect bback-drop to the dance itself.

In rural communities throughout Europe women have long performed a vital role in passing songs down to the next generation. Véronique Bourjot, Ghislaine Le Guillant, Marie-Aline Lagadic and her daughter Klervi Rivière paid tribute to this phenomenon in the "Merhed, le chant des femmes".







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