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  • Human Towers on the National Mall


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    For the first time in history, hundreds of skilled performers brought the human tower building tradition of Catalonia to the National Mall. Yesterday, 380 members of the Colla Joves Xiquets and Colla Vella dels Xiquets—longtime rivals from the town of Valls—arrived in Washington, D.C., ready to share their unique heritage with the American public.

    The audience was instructed not to applaud as castellers (builders) climbed their way up their teammates. Only once the smallest member reached the top—seven layers up—did the crowd burst into cheers. Both teams built at least five towers within their hour-long timeslots.

    The castellers are here through the rest of the Folklife Festival. On Saturday, see both teams competing at 2 p.m. in front of the Rinzler Stage. Colla Vella will perform again at the Plaça Major at 4 p.m.

    On Sunday, Colla Vella performs at 1 p.m. at Plaça Major and 4 p.m. in front of the Rinzler Stage. Colla Joves performs at 2 p.m. in front of the Rinzler Stage and 3 p.m. in the Plaça Major. Don’t miss them!

    Elisa Hough is the editor for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. If Folklife Festival staff built a human tower, she would be the smallest one on top.

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