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'The Dancing Goats' | Circle Round 5020:57

(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

What’s something… you dream of doing?

Maybe you dream about places you’d like to visit… or what sort of job you might have when you grow up?

In today’s story, we’ll meet a young man who dreams about making music… music that makes the whole world dance.

Our story is called “The Dancing Goats.” Versions of this tale originally come from Spain, a country in southern Europe.

Some really great people came together to bring you our folktale, including Jon Bell, Evan Casey, Karel Fisher, Adam Mastroianni, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Maurice Emmanuel Parent, and Raul Esparza.  You can see Raul on "Law and Order: SVU" and in April 2019, he will star in Hamlet at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir and edited by Executive Producer Jessica Alpert.  Eric Shimelonis provides original music and sound design.  Gabi Mrozowski is our intern and Sabina Hahn is our artist.

ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

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Things To Think About After Listening
Think about music that makes you get up and dance. Maybe it’s a specific song or a bunch of songs by a particular composer or musician. Perhaps it’s a particular style, or “genre.”

Whatever it is, when you’re done playing this podcast.... find a way to play some of that music. Put on a recording… bang it out on the piano… or use your voice and sing! Then, invite whoever’s with you to get up... and dance!

Musical Spotlight: Gaita
The gaita, or bagpipe, dates back to the 9th century. You can hear its clear, bright tone in the traditional music of northern Portugal and Galicia: the part of Spain where our story takes place. Some experts say the term gaita comes from 'gait' or 'gaita:' Gothic words meaning “goat.” This connection makes sense, since the gaita’s bag originally was made from a whole goat skin!

Story Transcript

NARRATOR: Once upon a time… in a very green, very mountainous part of Spain, called Galicia… there was a farm.

It was a small farm... down in the valley… and it produced just enough potatoes, apples and pears to support the family who lived there: a mother, a father, and their three sons.

The two older brothers, Santiago and Gonzalo, were extremely... competitive. Day in and day out, each young man raced through his farmwork: determined to plant even more potatoes, and pick even more apples and pears, than his brother.

But the third and youngest brother... Hugo... he had no desire to compete on the farm. He longed to do something else.

HUGO: Play music! If only I could become a real musician, and play music that makes the whole world get up and dance!

NARRATOR: As for what kind of music… well, one of the most popular instruments in Galicia… was the “gaita” [GUY-tah]. The gaita was, essentially, a set of bagpipes, with the bag made from animal hide. In this case, a goat.

HUGO: (wistful) Oh, how wonderful it would be to have a gaita of my own! To climb up into the great green mountains and let my gaita sing out across the hills and valleys...

NARRATOR: But Hugo knew what was expected of him on the farm. He also knew his parents were having trouble making ends meet. So he did his best to lend a hand. The trouble is, his two older brothers were so fast, there wasn’t much left for Hugo to do! So he spent most days sitting in the fields, dreaming... about music.

Eventually, his parents began to worry.

MOTHER: Oh, darling. It’s obvious Hugo has no interest in being a farmer. Clearly, his heart is in his music!

FATHER: Yes. But how in the world can he support himself as a musician? He needs to learn a trade that will put food on the table!

MOTHER: (thinking) Well... you know my brother has that herd of goats up in the mountains. He’s getting older, and I asked him if he’d like some help. What if he hires Hugo as his goatherd?

FATHER: Marvelous idea, my dear! We’ll send the boy off first thing tomorrow!

NARRATOR: The next morning, Hugo was surprised when his parents shared the news. After all, what did he know about goats?

But after just a few days working for his uncle, Hugo discovered... he enjoyed it.

HUGO: (calling out to goats) Here, Blanco! Here, Coco! Pepe, don’t think I don’t see you, hiding behind that rock! (sigh) Oh, what a fantastic life. I get plenty of fresh air, and the goats are sweet as can be. There’s just one thing… missing.

NARRATOR: And can you guess what that one thing was?

That’s right!


HUGO: (sigh) I’ve been dreaming about playing the gaita up in the great, green mountains forever. Now I have the mountains… but no gaita!

NARRATOR: Then… one day… Hugo met an old woman.

HUGO: Good afternoon! What brings you up here to the mountains?

NARRATOR: The woman sighed.

WOMAN: Why, thank you for asking, young man! I’m afraid I’ve lost my way. I’ve been wandering around for hours now, and I’m very hungry. Might you have anything for an old woman to eat?

NARRATOR: Hugo rummaged around in his satchel.

HUGO: Of course I do! Here. Take my bread and cheese. I tend to pack a lot of snacks during these long days with the goats.

WOMAN: Thank you, young man. What’s your name?

HUGO: Hugo.

WOMAN: Hugo. Thank you for sharing your food with me. Tell me: don’t you get lonely up here? Aren’t you afraid, being by yourself so much of the time?

NARRATOR: Hugo smiled.

HUGO: Actually, madam, I love the mountains. I love the goats, too. I’m not lonely or afraid!

WOMAN: Hmmm. You really do seem happy. But, is there nothing you want? Not even one little thing…?

HUGO: Well, since you asked… for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to own a gaita. I’ve always dreamt of letting its music sing out across the hills and valleys! Of playing music that makes the whole world get up and dance!

NARRATOR: Hugo went on to tell the old woman about his longtime dream of owning... a gaita. Of letting it sing out across the hills and valleys. Of playing music that makes the whole world get up and dance!

WOMAN: Well... If it’s a gaita you want, it’s a gaita you’ll get!

NARRATOR: And with that, the old woman reached inside her cloak and brought out... yes... a gaita! The bag was old and weathered, but when Hugo began to play, it produced a deep, rich sound.

So deep and rich, in fact... that something extraordinary happened.

What do you think happened when Hugo started to play the gaita? We’ll find out… after a quick break.


NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. I’m Rebecca Sheir. Today our story is called “The Dancing Goats.”

When we left off, a young man named Hugo had just received something he’d been wanting for a long time: a gaita, or Spanish bagpipes.

Hugo’s family worked on a farm, but all he wanted was to play music. So his parents sent him to be a goatherd. One day, a mysterious old woman wandered up to the mountains where he was herding goats, and gave him… yes… a gaita!

Immediately… he began to play. And when he did...all of Hugo’s goats… began… to dance!

And dance…

And dance!

And when Hugo stopped playing his music… the goats stopped dancing… and immediately began gobbling up the grass, hungry from all the jumping and jiving.

Hugo was about to thank the old woman for her gift, but when he looked around…

HUGO: Thank you so mu -

NARRATOR: ...she was gone!

HUGO: Huh?

NARRATOR: Months went by, and eventually, the goats’ owner, Hugo’s uncle, decided to pay his herd a visit, and see how Hugo was doing. When he climbed up the mountain, he found his nephew lounging beneath a tree, the goats splayed out on the grass around him.

UNCLE: Hugo! What’s going on here? It isn’t nighttime. Why aren’t the goats grazing?

HUGO: Oh, hello Uncle! The goats aren’t grazing… because they’re resting.

UNCLE: “Resting…”? I don’t understand!

NARRATOR: Ever the honest soul, Hugo told his uncle all about the magic gaita he’d received, and how it made the goats dance.

UNCLE: I must see this wondrous sight for myself! Go ahead, Hugo. Play!

HUGO: (worried about what might happen) Are you sure…?

UNCLE: Yes! Play!

NARRATOR: So… Hugo played. And immediately… the goats began to dance.

But they weren’t the only ones!

UNCLE: (dancing against his will) Hugo…?!!!?? What’s happening?!?

NARRATOR: No matter how hard Hugo’s uncle tried to stop dancing, he simply could not. Until the music… stopped.

UNCLE: (out of breath from all the dancing he just did) Listen, Hugo. I don’t know what kind of abracadabra hocus-pocus you’re trying to pull, but I won’t have it. You must go back to your parents’ farm, and never come back here!

NARRATOR: Hugo was disappointed, but he didn’t want to argue with his uncle.

HUGO: (resigned) Okay, Uncle.

NARRATOR: So Hugo packed up his gaita and went back to his family. When he told the story of what happened, his brothers, Santiago and Gonzalo, began begging him to play.

SANTIAGO: (curious, but also mocking) Pleeeeeease, little brother?

GONZALO: (mocking) Maybe the ants will start dancing!

SANTIAGO: Maybe the caterpillars will join in, too!

GONZALO: C’mon, Hugo!

SANTIAGO: We want to see your magic bagpipes at work!

NARRATOR: But Hugo refused. He felt he’d already caused enough trouble.

He continued carrying his gaita with him everywhere he went, but he simply would not play.

One day the boys’ father asked Santiago… the oldest brother… to sell a sack of apples at the market. Halfway there, Santiago came upon an old woman. He didn’t know it, but it was the same old woman who’d given Hugo his magic gaita!

WOMAN: Young man, I wonder: where are you going?

NARRATOR: Santiago was annoyed that a white-haired stranger was keeping him from his errand.

SANTIAGO: It’s none of your business where I’m going. Let me be!

NARRATOR: But the old woman would not let him be.

WOMAN: Tell me, then: what’s in your sack?

NARRATOR: Santiago rolled his eyes.

SANTIAGO: If you must know, my sack is full… of rats!

NARRATOR: The woman smiled.

WOMAN: Rats, eh? Well... good luck with your rats then!

NARRATOR: When Santiago arrived at the market and opened his sack, what should he find inside but… yes… rats! One-hundred squirming, wriggling rats who instantly began squirming and wriggling around the ankles of everyone at the market!

Santiago was so embarrassed by the commotion he caused that he immediately dashed home… and told his parents his apples had been stolen by thieves.

FATHER: That’s terrible, son. You must be shaken up. Gonzalo! Your older brother needs to rest. Why don’t you go to the market with this sack of pears! See what you can get for it.

GONZALO: It’d be my pleasure, father.

NARRATOR: Halfway to the market, Gonzalo also met the old woman. Though of course, he had no idea who she was.

WOMAN: Young man, I wonder: where are you going?

NARRATOR: Determined to outdo his older brother and sell all his pears, Gonzalo was miffed that this random woman was slowing him down.

GONZALO: It’s none of your business where I’m going. Let me be!

NARRATOR: But the old woman would not let him be.

WOMAN: Tell me, then: what’s in your sack?

NARRATOR: Santiago clenched his jaw.

GONZALO: Nothing’s in my sack… except a flock of birds!

NARRATOR: The woman smiled.

WOMAN: Birds, eh? Well... good luck with your birds then!

NARRATOR: When Gonzalo arrived at the market and opened his sack, instead of gleaming, glistening pears, can you guess what he saw?

That’s right! A flock of birds!

Twittering, tweeting, chirping birds who instantly began twittering, tweeting and chirping around the heads of everyone at the market. Santiago ran home empty-handed, and told his parents that he, too, had been overtaken by thieves.

FATHER: Well, Gonzalo, Santiago... clearly fortune is not in your favor. That leaves us with just one more option.

NARRATOR: Everyone’s eyes turned… to Hugo.

FATHER: Hugo, all I have left is this sack of potatoes. Take it to market, son, and sell it.

NARRATOR: Hugo’s older brothers were aghast.

SANTIAGO: You’re sending Hugo?!?

GONZALO: He’s the slowest worker we’ve ever seen!

SANTIAGO: He’s too busy dragging around those bagpipes!

GONZALO: And not even playing them!


NARRATOR: With his older brothers’ laughter ringing in his ears, Hugo set out with his sack of potatoes. Halfway to the market, he came upon the old woman. This time, she was wearing a dark veil over her eyes, so Hugo didn’t recognize her.

WOMAN: Young man, I wonder: where are you going?

NARRATOR: Hugo stopped walking, and smiled.

HUGO: I’m going to the market, madam.

WOMAN: And tell me: what’s in your sack?

HUGO: Oh, just some potatoes. Would you like some?

WOMAN: No, thank you. But I have to ask: what is that other thing you’re carrying? The bag…? With all the pipes…?

HUGO: Oh, this? (fondly) This is my gaita - my bagpipes. Not that I play anymore. Last time I did, I got into big trouble.

NARRATOR: The woman furrowed her brow.

WOMAN: Hmmm. That’s a shame. I sense that your gaita has brought you great joy. Why not do what makes you happy?

NARRATOR: Hugo hung his head.

HUGO: (hanging his head) I don’t know. Maybe I will play. When the time is right.

WOMAN: (measured) And I hope that time is soon. Til then, good luck with your potatoes!

NARRATOR: And, wouldn’t you know it, good luck is exactly what Hugo had! When he got to the market, his sack was overflowing with potatoes. The more potatoes he sold, the more potatoes there were in his sack! And the more potatoes there were in his sack, the more customers he got, all day long.

By the time Hugo left the market, his sack was emptied of potatoes… and bursting with gold coins. His brothers were jealous when they saw his new fortune... but his parents were overjoyed.

MOTHER: Oh, Hugo! Well done, son!

FATHER: We haven’t made this much money in years, my boy! I tell you what: tomorrow I’ll go with you to the market, and we’ll use this money to buy all sorts of good things: flour for bread, butter for toast -

MOTHER: And eggs! Do buy us some eggs. Perhaps we can hatch some! I’ve always wanted to raise chickens, but we could never afford them!

NARRATOR: So the next morning, Hugo and his father went off to the market. By the end of the day, they had a bounty of goods, piled high on a brand new wheelbarrow. On top was a big basket filled with plump brown eggs.

As they walked… Hugo’s father pushing the wheelbarrow, Hugo holding his gaita... the young man thought about what the old woman had said the day before.

WOMAN: I sense that your gaita has brought you great joy. Why not do what makes you happy?

NARRATOR: Before he knew what he was doing, Hugo was lifting up his gaita, and bringing the mouthpiece to his lips.

FATHER: Oh no, Hugo. What if the eggs begin to dance? Put those bagpipes down this instant!

NARRATOR: But Hugo did not put his bagpipes down. Instead… he began to play.

And as he did, he felt a rush of happiness wash over him. Happiness he hadn’t felt since he played his gaita for the goats... way up in the great green mountains.

Within moments, though, Father’s prediction had come true: the plump brown eggs were, indeed, dancing! Hopping and twisting up and down, this way and that, right there in the basket!

FATHER: Please, Hugo! Stop! We don’t want the eggs to crack open and - (as he feels the irrepressible urge to dance and gives in to it) Ohhhhh!

NARRATOR: Now Hugo’s father was dancing, too! Shaking and shimmying right there, in the middle of the road.

But Hugo’s heart was so full of joy, he couldn’t stop playing. So that’s how he and his father made their way home: Hugo playing the gaita, and his dancing dad pushing a wheelbarrow full of hopping and twisting eggs!

When they arrived at the farm, Hugo’s mother heard the music and rushed outside.

MOTHER: What in the world is going on, you two? (as she feels the irrepressible urge to dance and gives in to it) Ohhhh!

NARRATOR: Just as Hugo’s mother began to dance, do you know what happened? All the plump brown eggs jumped out of their basket… cracked open on the ground… and fluffy yellow chicks popped out of each and every one!

As soon as the chicks were free from their shells, can you guess what happened?

That’s right!

They began dancing, too!

MOTHER: (while dancing) My chickens! My dream! Oh, Hugo! Thank you!Whewwwwwww!

NARRATOR: From then on, Hugo played his gaita every single day. And whenever he played, the chicks danced. As with the goats, the chicks became fat and happy...and grew up into fat and happy chickens. Chickens who laid the plumpest, brownest eggs… which in turn hatched into fluffy yellow chicks!

When Hugo played his gaita, not even his brothers — Santiago and Gonzalo — could resist the urge to dance. And with all that dancing, the two of them became happier… and kinder... than they’d ever been. Instead of racing around… obsessing about outdoing one another... they took their time planting potatoes and picking apples and pears… laughing and singing all the while.

And Hugo did his share of laughing and singing, too. After all, he’d achieved his dream of becoming a real musician... and playing music that makes the whole world get up and dance.

Rebecca Sheir Twitter Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.


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