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.
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.
Long before the Conquest the most popular of all the dances
was and still is the dance of the voladores
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
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.
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