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Y Comienzo a Bailar (“And I Begin To Dance”)

An intimate portrait of Dia de los Muertos
Elizabeth Alexander / Augustin Cadena
Commissioned by First Unitarian Universalist Church of Rochester, MN

An intimate and loving portrait of one woman as she prepares for and celebrates Dia de los Muertos, Mexico’s Day of the Dead.  A significant soprano solo binds this poignant narrative together, expressing the grief and joy that are at the heart of this communal feast.

Item Instrumentation/Voicing Duration Level Audio Peruse Delivery Method (Print vs. Digital) Price Quantity
SEA-084-01 SATB, piano - Choral Score
5' MA Sheet Music $3.75
SEA-084-01DEL SATB, piano - Choral Score
5' MA Licensed PDF $3.75

Y Comienzo a Bailar (Poema para El Dia de los Muertos)

Poem by Elizabeth Alexander
Spanish translation by Agustin Cadena

Al preparar la habitación para los invitados, sacudo la mesa,
el trapo en mis manos, un sepulcro suave para lo que ahora es polvo.
Todo a mi alrededor, cada repisa y cada rincón albergan un pequeño cementerio.

Más tarde, cuando llegan las sombras de nuestras madres y nuestros padres,
las palabras se atropellan impotentes en nuestra boca: los amamos,
los extrañamos, los recordamos.

Extendemos nuestras manos ofreciendo pan, chocolate,
los regalos más preciados de nuestro jardín.

Las sombras no nos responden, ni comen, pero sonríen
de forma imperceptible, como siempre sonríe la muerte —

así que de repente los tomates brillan en la cazuela azul,
la sal húmeda crepita en nuestros labios
la caricia del viento dentro de nosotros es más fresca y más dulce, y
(segura de que los músicos han llegado por fin)
me levanto de mi silla y comienzo a bailar.

Original English poem:

And I Begin To Dance
(Poem for Dia de los Muertos)

Preparing the room for guests, I wipe the table clean,
the cloth in my hands a soft grave for what is now dust.
All around me, every ledge and corner harbors a small cemetery.

Later, when the shadows of our mothers and fathers arrive, words
tumble helplessly from our mouths: we love you,
we miss you, we remember you.

We hold out our hands, offering bread, chocolate, our garden’s tenderest gifts.

The shadows neither answer us nor eat, but smile
in the imperceptible way the dead always smile —

so that suddenly the tomatoes gleam bright in the blue bowl,
the wet salt on our lips crackles,
the wind’s caress within us is cooler and sweeter, and
(certain that the musicians have finally arrived)
I rise from my chair and begin to dance.


Premiere: Walden Hill Vocal Ensemble / Joe Mish (Rochester, MN)
Choir of Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist / Alison Vernon (Palatine, IL)
Choir of First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco / Mark Sumner (San Francisco, CA)
DeKalb Choral Guild / Mary Root (Avondale Estates, GA)
The OK Chorale / Sonja K. Millichamp, soprano. Unitarian Universalist Church of Midland. / (Midland, TX)
Walden Hill Vocal Ensemble / Joe Mish (St. Paul, MN)

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