Posts Tagged ‘folk dancing’

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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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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My mom was a folk dancer.  She had studied ballet, tap, and acrobatic dancing when she was young and brought that training and muscle memory along with her when she took up folk dancing in her mid thirties.  I spent many hours over the years watching her dance; the Kamarinskaya from Russia, Swedish Hambo, Fandango from Portugal, Mexico’s Jarabe Tapatio, and so many more.  In addition to being a talented dancer, she made her own costumes.  A dressmaker’s dummy was a permanent fixture in her bedroom, yards of colorful cotton fabric and braid were piled next to the sewing machine, and in the evenings her hands and eyes were often occupied embroidering pieces for a new costume.

Mom died in 1989, but not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.  So, on this Mother’s Day, this is for you mom…

Multicolored huipil with peacock design


Jewel toned embroidered huipil with peacock design

Zinacatán, Chiapas, Mexico

Black skirt embroidered on the diagonal with flowers

Zinacatán, Chiapas, Mexico

Black dress with gold-tone embroidery on sleeve and bodice.

San Antonino Castillo Velasco, Oaxaca, Mexico

Geometric yellow and red embroidery on purple skirt with lace bottom

Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico

Close up of the back of a brightly embroidered huipil on black velvet

Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico

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