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Posts Tagged ‘dancers’

Nuestra Señora de la Soledad is the patron saint, queen, and mother of Oaxaqueños — and she is my vecina (neighbor).  Thus, I shall not want for revelry!

Inside the Basílica, Soledad -- Dec. 17, 2016

“Inside” Soledad, in the Basílica — Dec. 17, 2016

Despite her name, there is no solitude for Soledad or her neighbors on her December 18 feast day  — or the days and nights leading up to it.  Like her sister December virgin images, Juquila and Guadalupe, she seems to thrive on the cacophony that is fiesta life here — after all they are Mexican Marías.

So, bandas playing traditional music (loudly), fireworks and rockets booming and banging, church bells urgently chiming, and lively recorridos (travels) through the streets of the city, beginning early in the morning and continuing well beyond midnight, are welcomed.

The celebrations began at 5:00 AM on December 7, with a ringing of church bells and a “dawn journey” and culminated with a grand fiesta yesterday, December 18, her feast day.  She seemed to enjoy the festivities, including these guys from the Istmo performing for her, *La Danza de los Negros.

Soledad’s fiesta will end tomorrow (Dec. 20) with a concert of Christmas carols at 7:00 PM.  It’s been great fun, but I’m already looking forward to Noche de Rabanos on December 23!

Outside Soledad in the Basílica courtyard - Dec. 18, 2016

“Outside” Soledad in the Basílica courtyard – Dec. 18, 2016

*La Danza de los Negros is another of those complex and multilayered dances traditional to specific indigenous cultures in Oaxaca.  For more information, check out the article (en español), Los Negros, tradición bixhahui, ícono de Chihuitán.

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Unlike last Saturday, there was no rain on yesterday’s Guelaguetza parade.  There was music, mezcal, and tepache. (Click on photos for full image.)

There were headdresses and bling.

There was awesome pride and joy.

And, there were kids to carry on the traditions.

Muchisimas gracias to the extended family of Hotel Casa Catrina who allowed me to seek shelter from last Monday’s rain and yesterday, saw me across the street and invited me for a shot of mezcal and to watch the desfile with them.  That’s Oaxaca — warm, welcoming, and wonderful!!!

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Yesterday, two friends and I hailed a taxi and headed out of the city.  We disembarked at the Viguera crucero, where we crowded into blogger buddy Chris’s car enroute to the intimate Guelaguetza in Las Peñitas Reyes Etla.

The day was overcast and there were a few light sprinkles, but the welcome we received on this grey day warmed our hearts.

As they have in past years, for three and a half hours, the members of the folkloric dance group, Danza Balachi, danced, changed costumes, danced, changed costumes, and danced some more.

The sun eventually made an appearance and our day ended with very yummy estofado at our favorite restaurant, Comedor Colón in Villa de Etla.  It was a great day!

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One of the much anticipated features of this year’s Fiesta Titlular a la Preciosa Sangre de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo in Teotitlán del Valle was the debut of the new Grupo de Danza de Pluma Promesa.

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Danzantes

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Danzantes

Unlike in many of the other villages, where the Danza de la Pluma is danced by folkloric dance troupes, in Teotitlán del Valle nineteen young men and two little girls make a promise to their god and, thus, their community to learn and perform the dance at each of the four annual major religious festivals in the village for three years.

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Moctezuma with Malinche and Doña Marina

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Danzantes woven wool leggings

This is not a commitment to be taken lightly, as there are 40+ dances that comprise this Zapotec retelling of the story of Moctezuma and the Aztecs battle with Cortes and the Conquistadors.  The entire telling of the story takes almost eight hours to perform in the church plaza — in conditions that can vary from brilliant sun with sweltering temperatures to gusty winds to drizzling rain.

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Subalterno offering water

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Subalterno imitating the danzantes

It’s been almost six months since we first saw the new group at one of their early practice sessions.  In jeans, t-shirts, and gym shoes, the guys were at the beginning stages of learning the steps.

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Moctezuma, a danzante, and Doña Marina

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Moctezuma and the danzantes

They have learned well and it’s going to be an outstanding three years!

 

 

 

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The “only in Oaxaca” Noche de Rábanos is coming!  If you are in Oaxaca, the zócalo is the place to be on December 23 to watch radishes being carved into familiar and fantastical creations.  Among the former, dancers from Oaxaca’s eight regions are a favorite.

Danza de la Pluma dancer in Rábanos Tradicional category 2012

Danza de la Pluma dancer in Rábanos Tradicional category 2012

Baile del Guajolote dancer in Rábanos Libre category 2013

Baile del Guajolote dancer in Rábanos Libre category 2013

Despite of the name, it isn’t just about carved radishes.  The artists of Oaxaca work their creative magic in several other categories, including dried flowers…

Chinas Oaxaqueñas in Flor Inmortal category 2012

Chinas Oaxaqueñas in Flor Inmortal category 2012

… and corn husks.

Chinas Oaxaqueñas entry in Totomoxtle Natural category 2012

Chinas Oaxaqueñas entry in Totomoxtle Natural category 2012

Jarabe Mixteco dancer in Totomoxtle Decorado category 2012

Jarabe Mixteco dancer in Totomoxtle Decorado category 2012

Danza de los Huenches Viejos de Yalalag in Totomoxtle Decorado category 2012

Danza de los Huenches Viejos de Yalalag in Totomoxtle Decorado category 2012

I wish I could be in two places at one time, so I could experience this year’s Night of the Radishes.  If you are lucky enough to be there, enjoy and take lots of photos!

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Yesterday was SO much fun!!!  I’m spending Christmas with family in New York and was invited by my daughter-in-law to speak to her special education class. Wearing one of my huipiles from the Papaloapan region of Oaxaca, I filled them in on “life in Oaxaca.”

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We looked at a map of Mexico and I pointed to where the state of Oaxaca is located.

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We spoke a little Spanish and discovered that some familiar foods, like chocolate, gum (chicle), corn (maíz), and turkey (pavo), originated in Mexico.  They learned that there are many artisan crafts made in Oaxaca and I showed them a tapete (rug) that was woven in Teotitlán del Valle.

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We talked about festivals with processions, bands, marmotas, monos, and dancing.  And, to illustrate the diversity of the indigenous peoples of Oaxaca, I created a short video from La Guelaguetza 2014.

We discussed the differences between Christmas traditions in Mexico and the USA — that Christmas trees aren’t as common, but most everyone sets up a nacimiento (nativity scene) in their home.

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Of course, they loved the idea of breaking open a piñata filled with candy and trinkets.

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I concluded with a video I’d made and previously posted of the castillo in Teotitlán del Valle during the festival honoring the Virgen del Rosario.  Needless to say, they were awestruck by the fireworks.  And then I gave them each a woven palm leaf piñata ornament.  Alas, no candy inside!

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I was very touched that my daughter-in-law returned home later in the afternoon bringing individualized thank-you notes from the students.  However, I would like to give a big “muchisimas gracias” to her for inviting me and to her students for being such an attentive, engaged, and delightful audience!

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After being rained out on Sunday, we picked ourselves and our rain gear up and returned to Teotitlán del Valle on Monday for the abbreviated version (4 hours instead of 8 hours) of the Danza de la Pluma — more of the multi-day fiesta honoring La Santísima Virgen María de la Natividad (the Sainted Virgin Mary of the Nativity).

As I’ve previously mentioned, the Danza de la Pluma is a ritual re-enactment of the Spanish conquest.  The full version is told in 41 bailes (dances) and lasts from early afternoon into the night.  It is danced by folkloric groups throughout the valley of Oaxaca.  However, in Teotitlán, Moctezuma, Danzantes, Subalternos, Malinche, and Doña Marina are selected years in advance and make a promise to the church and community to perform their roles for 3 years.  It is a great honor.

Malinche and Doña Marina

La Malinche (Juana Lizbeth Contreras Vicente), Doña Marina (Ailani Ruíz Ruíz), and Danzantes.

Moctezuma and the Danzantes.

Moctezuma (José Isaac Vasquez de Los Angeles) poised to dance the dance.

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Moctezuma approaching… dancing the dance.

Moctezuma departing...

Moctezuma departing… dancing the dance.

Malinche (Juana Lizbeth Contreras Vicente) dancing the dance.

Malinche dancing the dance.

Doña Marina dancing the dance.

Doña Marina dancing the dance.

The Danzantes in action.

The Danzantes dancing the dance.

The rains came again and we missed the fireworks and castillo.  However, we are already plotting our return at the beginning of October for the Rosario de la Virgen María festival.

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The Plaza de la Danza was filled with cheering crowds early Sunday evening as ten girls and eight boys from Los Ángeles de Luz took the stage for the 13th edition of this very special Guelaguetza.  Perhaps it is because I have a special needs nephew or that both my sister-in-law and daughter-in-law are special ed teachers that I am drawn to this event every year.  In any case, the joy and pride exhibited by these young people with Down’s Syndrome, as they make the requisite costume changes and perform traditional dances from the eight regions of Oaxaca, always lifts my heart.

I had to leave before it ended, but hopefully through this slideshow I can share a little of the professionalism and accomplishment of these performers and the emotion experienced by those of us who had the privilege of being in the audience.

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President of Los Ángeles de Luz, Flor Verónica García Ávilan explained in El Imparcial, that the group was formed after “realizing that contact with music, dance, and the audience makes them happy, cheerful, communicative, committed and disciplined beings, facilitating their development holistically within society.” [translated from Spanish]

And, I would like to add, for those of us watching their performance, it facilitates our acceptance of those who many be a little different from us.  If you are in Oaxaca for next year’s Guelaguetza festivities, try to attend this heartwarming and uplifting event.  Also, there is always a calenda (parade) a couple of days before AND scrambling for gifts tossed into the crowd after each dance.

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Last Saturday, in the end, it did not rain on the parade.  With only minutes to spare before the first desfile of the Guelaguetza delegations was to begin, the torrential downpour stopped, the rockets sounded, bands played, and the delegates danced their way down Independencia.  I can’t believe how UN-bedraggled and energetic they were!

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Here’s hoping I managed to include one photo from each of the delegations in the slideshow above.

By the way, if you are in Oaxaca and planning to attend the second desfile tomorrow (July 25), see below for the parade route  — it has been changed!

Desfile2 ruta

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Three weeks from today, despite the Never-ending tale of the velaria, the 83rd annual Guelaguetza performances on Cerro Fortín commence.  Yikes, was it really almost a year ago that one of my childhood BFFs and I walked up the hill to the auditorium to revel in the music, costumes, dances, view, fireworks, and all-around conviviality of festivities?  There is always so much going on during the last two weeks of July, that I only got around to posting a few photos from that evening.  Today, and for the following two Mondays, I’m going to attempt to remedy that.  Better late than never!

The delegation from the Cañada region of the state, Huautla de Jimenez, danced to Sones Mazatecos…
IMG_4701IMG_4707IMG_4708The dancers from Santiago Juxtlahuaca, in the Mixteca, performed the rip-roaring Danza de los Rubios…
IMG_4778P1010286IMG_4785And, from the Istmo de Tehuantepec region, the beautiful women and dashing men from Ixtepec presented Vela “Esmeralda”…
IMG_4717IMG_4724P1010283IMG_4759IMG_4761That’s all folks!  But, more to come next Monday.

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It’s been one year since the passing of maestro Arnulfo Mendoza Ruíz.

Tejedor de los sueños by Charles Barth

Tejedor de los sueños by Charles Barth (alas, with reflections from other pieces)

To honor his life, an exhibit of works by his friends, colleagues, and family was inaugurated at La Mano Mágica on March 13, 2015.

ManoMagica exhibit

His older son, Gabriel Mendoza Gagnier, curated this amazing collection of paintings, weaving, and artesanía.

Assisted by Arnulfo’s companion, Yukiko, the opening featured, not only amazing art, but also mezcal, tamales, and surprise entertainment by Carnaval dancers from San Martín Tilcajete, wearing masks carved by some of the well-known carvers from the village, including Inocenio Vásquez and Jésus Sosa Calvo.

Jésus Sosa Calvo had carved the signature entry sign for La Mano Mágica and recently, unasked, came by to freshen up the paint that had faded over the years under the intense Oaxaca sun.

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While, in the words of Manuel Matus Manzo,  Arnulfo Mendoza may have gone on “to meet the Jaguar and the god Murcielago,” the dreams of his magical hands remain.

Finally, this beautiful poem by Alberto Blanco from the exhibit’s catalog…

Mitades a Arnulfo

I
La mitad de la tierra
no sueña con la luna.
La mitad de la luna
no sueña con el sol.

Si la luna es la trama,
y si el sol es la urdimbre,
esa tierra es la tela
donde acaso se vive.

II
La vida es la comedia
ya la muerte es el drama,
pero el textil de siempre
es la urdimbre y la trama.

La mitad de la vida,
la mitad de la muerte:
una tela tejida
con un hilo de suerte.

 

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Last Monday, L and I had a leisurely hike up the hill from my apartment to the Guelaguetza Auditorium, sat in stadium seats almost 20 rows up, looking down on the enormous circular concrete stage with the city and mountains providing a picturesque backdrop.

Yesterday, I hopped on a bus, heading for another Guelaguetza performance, this time in Villa de Etla.  However, a bloqueo (blockade) by Sección 22 of the teachers’ union had the bus turning around, doubling back, and taking a circuitous route that eventually wound its way through the narrow streets of Santa Rosa.  Once we got back on the main road, I transferred to a colectivo and arrived in Etla just as the dancing was about to begin — this time on a small temporary wood-plank stage, that seemed to shake with every dance step.  The setting wasn’t quite as spectacular, but, there I was, within an arm’s reach of the dancers!

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Danza de la Pluma

Danza de la Pluma

 

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Flor de Piña

With the exception of the Danza de la Pluma, these dancers are from a folkloric group that performs each of the traditional regional dances.   As you can see from their faces, they dance with as much joy and pride as the delegations from the villages at the big Guelaguetza.

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Returning home was its own adventure.  Last week, L and I only had to navigate sidewalks, pathways, and stairs along with the other 11,000 attendees.  Yesterday, Chris (see his Guelaguetza in Etla – 2014 post) gave me a ride to a bus stop where, after about 10 minutes, I caught the bus that would deposit me a half block from Casita Colibrí.  Alas, the best laid plans…  Just before the intersection up to Cerro Fortín, masked maestros (teachers) surrounded the bus, our driver shrugged, opened the doors, and off we passengers got.  It was hot, I was tired, but what else was there to do?  I hoofed it to halfway between the Museo del Ferrocarril (Railroad Museum) and Morelos Park, when another bus materialized, I climbed aboard, giving my feet a much-needed rest, and let the driver navigate the clogged streets that took me back to home sweet home.

It was a fun and frustrating AND exhilarating and exhausting kind of day.

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Do you remember the Danzantes in training from two weeks ago?  All that practice by folkloric dancers from eight villages in the valleys of Oaxaca, was for last night’s “monumental” opening of the Muestra Internacional de Danza Oaxaca.

The dance festival lasts through next Saturday (April 12, 2014), with events taking place at venues throughout the city, AND all are free!

By the way, I’d received an email notice of the dance festival, but it was the comment, “Hope to see us this coming Saturday” from “the danzante with the orange penacho and green shirt” seen in a photo from my blog post, Speaking of Danzantes, that had me making a special point to attend.  Muchisimas gracias a Abdiel for the tip.  I hope you see this post!

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Reason number 579 why I love Oaxaca…

Today was the first day of a way-too-short first time visit to Oaxaca by a couple of California gal pals — an orientation walk through El Centro was the order of the day.  And what did we stumble upon in front of the Government Palace?  Danzantes waiting to perform a couple of the dances from the Danza de la Pluma.

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They began dancing and I flashed on Saturdays’ blog post, Danzantes in training.  However, these guys definitely weren’t apprentices — they had the steps and jumps down WITH those heavy and seemingly unwieldy penachos on their heads — and the crowd cheered.

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The danzantes and most of their gathered audience were from San Bartolo Coyotepec, about 15 km south of the city.  It’s a village known for the artisans who make black pottery.  However, along with the band and dancers, there were banners and protestors.

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According to this article (in Spanish), “they arrived at the presidential palace in the main square of the city to demand the replacement of the elections because the process was considered seedy and does not represent the will of the community.”

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Culture and politics… I couldn’t have arranged a more quintessential Oaxaca experience, if I had tried.  And my friends, what did they think?   They loved it all!

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This morning, as I was getting ready to go to my local mercado, I heard the unmistakable sounds of the Danza de la Pluma (feather dance).  I’ve seen it often enough in Teotitlán del Valle to know the music.  While it is performed throughout the valley and is always one of the big hits during July’s Guelaguetza, Teotitlán del Valle is one of only two villages where it is performed as a religious ritual during their three major yearly festivals.

As I approached the Plaza de la Danza, the music got louder and louder.  Once there, I looked down to see 75 – 100 dancers in jeans and t-shirts practicing one of the (forty-one) dances of the Danza de la Pluma.  They were danzantes in training from various folkloric groups in the valley of Oaxaca.

As you can see from the video, the footwork is complex and the steps require a lot of stamina.  And, just wait until they put on the penachos (headdresses)!

I often wonder and worry that the traditional dances will eventually be lost.  Today’s encounter with these young dancers gave me hope.

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