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Folk dances in Mexico
 Page updated on 03.10.2015
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Folk dances

Some dances come more or less from European forms, like the jarabes from the states of Jalisco and Michoacán, the jarana yucateca and the polca nortena, Mexican version of the polka, (traditional dance of the northern part of the country), the huapango, similar to the Spanish fandango (in San Luis Potosi), the Cuban danzon (in Veracruz). Most of them have Love for theme with young men courting beautiful girls. You could see it especially with the jarabe tapatio when the horseman hidden below his wide-brimmed sombrero, furtively kisses his partner. The accordion was the main instrument and then, guitars, basses and percussions were added.

aztec dances in Mexico cityThe indigenous regional dances that add a so colorful note to the fiestas in the villages are closer to religious rituals than a simple entertainment. The custom to dance on the place of the church comes from the Colonial time. Anxious to be done with the pagan customs, the first missionaries used the trick to have their flock dance only on the churches squares.

     Right picture : aztec dances in Mexico city



The Voladores
Long before the Conquest the most popular of all the dances was and still is the dance of the voladores (dance performed by the Totonac Indian fliers). Jumping off from the top of a 150-foot (30 meters) pole, four brave dancers, with the ankles tied to ropes, “fly” gracefully around and around, describing larger and larger circles as the ropes unwind.

los voladores in Papantla Every acrobat goes around the pole 13 times, which, multiply by 4, makes 52 turns. The 52 performed figures represent the number of years in Aztec century. The flight of these four dancers is the symbol of the spirits of the dead warriors who, in the middle of the day, when the sun reaches the zenith, come back on earth as birds. Their synchronous flight symbolizes the unit between humanity and cosmos. You should go to Papantla the day of Corpus Christi (Late May-Beginning of June) to assist to that dangerous event which was dedicated to the sun in the old days.

The Yaqui Indians from Northwest, most of them settled now, evoke their ancestors, warriors and trappers with El Venado, the dance of the deer which evokes the struggle between good and evil. The first dancer wears a headpiece adorned with antlers, (the deer is the totem of the Yaquis). He has four deer legs tied to his belt and he wears strings of dry cocoons containing gravel as ankle rattles. The art consists in miming the graceful moves of the deer while the rattles are suggesting the noise of the wind. The partner of the dancer represents the coyote. Together they execute a series of moves that remember the centennial fight between the two species.

The Concheros from Mexico City and the central provinces are one of the most important associations of dancers with thousands of members. Their name is derived form their musical instruments similar to mandolins, the concha, made of armadillo shells, from the Altiplano. Their velvet costumes and leathers headpieces try to restitute the splendor of the clothes of the Aztec.

The astral ritual of the dance of the Quetzales (from Totonac, mostly) is a model of seriousness and harmony which picturesque aspect is due to the surprising headpieces worn by the dancers. These headpieces, cone shaped hats holding a big colorful feathered wheel, symbolize the sun and the tuft of the bird quetzal.

We don’t want to forget the dance of the Little Old Men (viejitos), very popular in Mexico, which is danced with masks in the state of Michoacán.

     Right picture : los voladores in Papantla

concherias in Mexico City on the day of the dead folkloric group from San Cristóbal de las Casas

    Left picture : concherias in Mexico City on the day of the dead

    Right picture : folkloric group from San Cristóbal de las Casas

Danza de Viejitos - Jarácuaro, Michoacán - The dance of the little old men (viejitos), very popular in Mexico, is danced with masks in the Michoacán state.

The Ballet Folklorico

The Ballet Folklorico made popular two monotonous melodies from Isthmus of Téhuantepec : the Zandunga and the Llorona. Non-only they are among the best Mexican popular songs but they are the most representative songs of the southern Mexican music, patria of the marimba and its dance with slow and gracious rhythms. For a while it was believed that the marimba was from Africa ; discoveries in the seventies seem to indicate that it existed before the Conquest. The music of the marimba, big xylophone on feet, took birth in the Isthmus of Téhuantepec, in the states of Tabasco, Chiapas, Yucatán and Quintana Roo. Three or four musicians share the keyboard : one plays the melody, the second the chords, each of the two remaining plays a motto in counterpoint and effects of vibrato. Every village got one or two groups of marimba and their virtuosity is the pride of the inhabitants.

  Folkloric ballet from Veracruz*   Right picture : Folkloric ballet from Veracruz







For all the friends of the indigenous music of Mexico, look at the project of the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples which tries to make known, through the web, the voices of the cultural and musical diversity from every part of Mexico : .

El patito-La Iguana / Ballet Folklorico Huehuecoyotl (BFH)

Children from 8 to 9 years old are part of the ballet.

Origin : state of Guerrero


ballet Amalia Hernandez in Mexico City ballet Amalia Hernandez in Mexico City
ballet Amalia Hernandez in Mexico City ballet Amalia Hernandez in Mexico City

       Left and right pictures : ballet Amalia Hernandez in Mexico City


Your comments about the content of this page
  • posted on 23/08/2013 - 22:08 by Tex-mexicana  0 votes   
    I am looking for instructions on how to dance "the Redova." I think it has Polish roots, but has been danced since I was married and moved to So. TX over 50 years ago. It may have come via San Antonio, TX.
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