Angelitos Negros

by Donald McKayle

Wylliams / Henry Contemporary Dance Company

Karah Abiog in Angelitos Negros by Donald McKayle dancing with Wylliams/Henry for the Fall 2008 concert 11, 12 septembre
Karah Abiog

Wylliams/Henry video of Angelitos Negros from the May 2007 show with DeeAnna Hiett dancing (the link opens in a new window)
Video is by Mike Strong, Nicole English

Angelitos Negros
Choreography: Donald McKayle
Music: Manuael Alvarez Maciste
Lyrics: Andres Eloy Blanco
Costume Design: Lea Vivante
Dancer: Karah Abiog (Sept 2008), DeeAnna Hiett (May 2007)
Premiered in 1972 by the Inner City Repertory Dance Company of Los Angeles as part of Donald McKayle's dance suite, "Songs of the Disinhereted."
This work was sponsored by the Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation

Karah Abiog in "Angelitos Negros" by Donald McKayle

Karah Abiog in Angelitos Negros by Donald McKayle dancing with Wylliams/Henry for the Fall 2008 concert 11, 12 septembre
Karah Abiog


Expanded notes on
"Angelitos Negros"

Timeline (in brief) for Angelitos Negros

This poem was very famous in Latin American inspiring song and music.As you attend the program it is nice to know some of the story, the context of the piece. Angelitos Negros dealt with race relations and asks where are the black angels in the cathedral, will you, painters, not paint black angels? It was, and is, well known and widely performed.

(Note: These are in order by date. The order does not always reflect direct development from each last one.)

  • Poem: Date early 40s by Andres Eloy Blanco - Venezualan (mixed race)
  • Voice Performances (distribution): Berta Singerman (Russian born Argentinian actor and monologist)
  • Set to Music: 1946 Manuel Alvarez Maciste (Mexican actor / singer)
  • Recording (Spain) 1947 Antonio Machin (black Cuban singer): (later recording)
    from a Google Translation: In principle ... a Moorish song ... with arrangements by the end of the 60s ... a bolero.
  • Movie of the name with this song: This movie really makes the song a much larger Latin hit - ground-breaking movie about race in Mexico, 1948 - although most of the black characters are in blackface at this time period and there are only a few genuine black actors used. The director re-did this movie in 1970.
  • Director Joselito Rodríguez
    Actor/Singer Pedro Infante plays a father who sings it to his small daughter, born darker than her parents - a surprise to the father who accepts his daughter but not to the mother who has been hiding that she is "passing" (Note: Infante, was as famous in Mexico as Sinatra was in the US).
    Pedro Infante's character singing to daughter (Titina Romay):
    (the entire movie is on YouTube in 10-minute clips
  • US recording 1953 Eartha Kitt:
    (medley, A.N. is about 2 minutes into it)
  • US recording 1969 Roberta Flack from her "First Take" album
    (the version used in this performance of the Donald McKayle choreography by Wylliams/Henry)
  • Movie, (remake?) 1970 with Joselito Rodriquez as director and writer (29 Agosto 1970) with Titina Romay, this time in another part now that she is 22 years older
  • Television series (telenovela, Mexico) 1970
    director: Antulio Jiménez Pons
    Writer: Joselito Rodríguez (writer) and Titina Romay playing Isabel
  • Donald McKayle choreographs "Angelitos Negros": 1972
  • 2007 punk rocker "Cat Power" recording: YouTube at: (clear) and (splatty sound)

Karah Abiog in Angelitos Negros by Donald McKayle dancing with Wylliams/Henry for the Fall 2008 concert 11, 12 septembre
Karah Abiog

The song's lyrics are extracted from Blanco's poem in segments and those segments are placed in a different order. The actual poem in Spanish is below.

Translation of the song lyrics from the Poem by Andres Eloy Blanco
Direct lifts from the poem are in blue

Painter born in my native land with the foreign brush
Painter that continues the course of all the painters of old
Even though the Virgin may be White, paint little Black angels for me

For they too go to heaven
Painter indeed you paint with love!
Why do you deprecate those of your color,
If you know that in heaven God also loves them?
Painter of saints in the alcoves, if you have a soul in your body
Why have you forgotten those of Black color in your paintings?
Every time you paint a church you paint beautiful little angels
But never have you remembered to paint a black angel.

The same en Español (line by line) - Lines for the song
Direct lifts from the poem are in blue

Pintor nacido en mi tierra con el pincel extranjero
Pintor que sigues el rumbo De tantos pintores viejos.
Aunque la virgen sea blanca Píntame angelitos negros Que

también se van al cielo
( Todos los negritos buenos - this line is not in the translation above)
Pintor que pintas con amor
Por qué Desprecias su color
Si sabes que en el cielo también los quiere Dios?
Pintor de santos de alcobas si tienes alma en el cuerpo
Por qué Al pintar en tus cuadros te olvidaste De los negros?
Siempre pintas iglesias pintas angelitos bellos
Pero nunca te acordaste de pintar un ángel negro


Original Poem - Direct lifts for the song are in blue

Píntame Angelitos Negros
Andrés Eloy Blanco.

¡ Ah mundo ! La Negra Juana,
¡ la mano que le pasó !
se le murió su negrito, sí señor.
Ay, compadrito del alma,
¡ tan sano que estaba el negro !
yo no le acataba el pliegue,
yo no le miraba el hueso,
como yo me enflaquecía,
lo medía con mi cuerpo,
se me iba poniendo flaco
como yo me iba poniendo.
Se me murió mi negrito;
Dios lo tendría dispuesto;
ya lo tendrá colocao
como angelito del cielo.
Desengáñese, comadre,
que no hay angelitos negros.
Pintor de Santos de alcoba,
pintor sin tierra en el pecho,
que cuando pintas tus santos
no te acuerdas de tu pueblo,
que cuando pintas tus Vírgenes
pintas angelitos bellos,
pero nunca te acordaste
de pintar un ángel negro.

Pintor nacido en mi tierra,
con el pincel extranjero,
pintor que sigues el rumbo
de tantos pintores viejos
aunque la Vírgen sea blanca,
píntame angelitos negros.
No hay un pintor que pintara
angelitos de mi pueblo.
Yo quiero angelitos blancos
con angelitos morenos.
Angel de buena familia
no basta para mi cielo.
Si queda un pintor de santos,
si queda un pintor de cielos,
que haga el cielo de mi tierra,
con los tonos de mi pueblo,
con su ángel de perla fina,
con su ángel de medio pelo,
con sus ángeles catires,
con sus ángeles morenos,
con sus angelitos blancos,
con sus angelitos indios,
con sus angelitos negros,
que vayan comiendo mangos
por las barriadas del cielo.
Si al cielo voy algún día,
tengo que hallarte en el cielo,
angelitico del diablo,
serafín cucurusero.
Si sabes pintar tu tierra,
así has de pintar tu cielo,
con su sol que tuesta blancos,
con su sol que suda negros,
porque para eso lo tienes
calientitos y de los buenos.
Aunque la Virgen sea blanca,
píntame angelitos negros.
No hay una iglesia de rumbo,
no hay una iglesia de pueblo,
donde hayan dejado entrar
al cuadro angelitos negros
y entonces ¿ Adónde van,
angelitos de mi pueblo,
zamuritos de Guaribe,
torditos de Barlovento ?
Pintor que pintas tu tierra,
si quieres pintar tu cielo,
cuando pintes angelitos
acuérdate de tu pueblo
y al lado del ángel rubio
y junto al ángel trigueño,
aunque la Virgen sea blanca,
píntame angelitos negros.

Karah Abiog in Angelitos Negros by Donald McKayle dancing with Wylliams/Henry for the Fall 2008 concert 11, 12 septembre
Karah Abiog



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Angelitos Negros

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