The highlight of our stay in Mexico City was a dance performance we saw one evening. It took us on a journey through dance history of Mexico. Let me share some of it with you.
The Jarabe Tapatio – The Mexican Hat Dance was named the national dance of Mexico in 1924 in an effort to bring together several different cultures together as one national identity. Since it became the national dance it has also become a symbol of Mexico around the world. The dance tells the story of love and courtship. It can be performed either by a couple or a group of couples. A charro, dressed in the traditional charro suit, a three-piece suit composed of a vest, jacket, and pants bearing silver buttons down the seam, makes initial courtship gestures to la china (wearing the traditional China Poblana outfit). It looks almost like a mariachi band’s attire. They flirt throughout the beginning of the dance, during which time the man attempts to woo the woman with his zapateado (stamping and tapping) and his machismo. Just as he has impressed the woman, he becomes drunk with glory, and is shooed away as a borracho (an inebriate), but ultimately, he succeeds in conquering the china, throwing his hat to the ground and kicking his leg over his partner’s head as she bends down to pick it up. The two do a triumphant march to a military tune called a diana, and the dance ends with a romantic turn or the couple hiding their faces behind the man’s sombrero in a feigned kiss. I only have pictures of Dance of the Rope which developed in Jalisco which roots it with The Mexican Hat Dance.
La Danza del Venado, known as the Deer Dance, is a ritualistic dance illustrating a deer hunt, with dancers playing the roles of the hunters and the dying deer itself. This evening this was a one man show and I can’t say you often see such a craft. It was amazing, the movements mastered to perfection, a tribute to dance and human body. The performers (pascolas) wear wooden masks and bells. The performer playing the deer wears minimal costuming except for a headdress, usually of a deer. He also carries rattles in his hands, and tied around his legs are tenabaris, dried butterfly cocoons, which also ratter as he dances. It is still performed almost identically to the way it was originally choreographed. While the Mexican Hat Dance has changed with the times, this dance has remained true not only to its theme, but also to its steps and rhythm.
La Marcha de Zacatecas (called Mexico’s Second national Anthem) is a result of a bet between Villapando and Genaro Codina, which consisted of writing a military march. Both compositions were submitted to a jury composed of friends and relatives, who gave the victory to the song of Genaro Codina. The original title was “Marcha Aréchiga”, to be dedicated to the governor Arechiga, but he suggested that the name was changed to March of Zacatecas. After the revolution the “Zacatecas March” has become a forced identifier of any civic or commemorative heroic event. It is used in remote villages and large cities to announce the beginning of every activity from a civic assembly to the curtain raiser of a circus function, a starter for a movie theatre show or a school event; and it is recognized by every single Mexican national, as the second national anthem.
In some of the dances we could clearly see Spanish influences. This was because of style of the dance but more evidently because of the costumes. The Spanish costume shows the white guayabera pants and shirts and red waist sash and straw hat. The women wear imported white lace dresses; their hair up in buns in a comb and shawls, or rebozos, accompanied by fans. The style of dance: bambas, and huapangos, which are greatly influenced by flamenco steps. The music is mostly acoustical, violin and harp, which were influenced during the conquest and also penetrated by elements of the Arab, African, German, Dutch, and other European cultures.
In 1910, the Mexican working class began their long battle for land reform against accordions, guitars, electric bass, and drums. “La Cucaracha” talks about revolutionary leaders Francisco (Pancho) Villa and Emiliano Zapata. “La Adelita,” the most famous corrido, is about a woman who followed her lover into battle. “La Adelita” is now known as the archetype of the woman warrior, the soldadera who cooked and cared for the wounded and fought alongside her brother, son, or husband. Her story allowed for the perception of the Mexican woman to change, and today the name “La Adelita” refers to any strong and fearless women. The dancers wear the traditional ranchera style clothing from the era. Men wear striped pants, white shirt, zarape (blanket-like shawl), bullets, straw hat, and black boots. The women have added bullets and rifles to their colorful daily wear to represent their struggle for justice.
Changing the subject. I’m a chocaholic. I love dark chocolate in all types and forms. I don’t like milk chocolate that much anymore, but anything from cakes to drinking chocolate is always welcome and mostly this is how I sin. Eating too much of this mouth watering delicacy. In Mexico I got a piece of cake that was so rich that I couldn’t eat it. I’ll put it to having a rough day, but I was shocked. No less were shocked those with me. Anyway I have only one picture of the place where they serve it. have a look on the left. I did a small investigation and the restaurant is located in Cerrada 5 de Mayo. I think anyway. It felt a bit like in an old bath house because of the walls being covered with tiles all over. if by any chance you know this place please let me know.
There is so much that can be said about the National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropologia) that one doesn’t even know where to start. I highly recommend visiting. The museum is located on Avenida Paseo de la Reforma and Calzada Gandhi, Colonia Chapultepec Polanco. It is just outside the gates of Chapultepec Park. by the way the park is really nice as well. Here are some highlights for me:
- Carved conch
- Man smoking a cigarette, you can see how peaceful he is and how much he enjoys it even though it’s not very detailed figure
- Maya Display in the open air garden of the Museum including statue of Death
- Grolier codex which is a folding-screen book painted on bark paper which has been coated with stucco
- A skull with preserved teeth with little stones in them (Filling? no the people had semiprecious gems soldered on to their teeth as a pure form of decoration. The ornamental gemstones (including jade) were attached with an adhesive made out of natural resins, such as plant sap, which was mixed with other chemicals and crushed bones. The dentists likely had a sophisticated knowledge of tooth anatomy. The other doctors did brain surgery drilling the skull)
- Jade mask of the Zapotec Bat God in Oaxaca exhibit room
In front of the Museum we were witness to The Danza de los Voladores (Dance of the Flyers), or Palo Volador (Pole Flying), which is an ancient Mesoamericanceremony/ritual. The ritual consists of dance and the climbing of a 30 meter pole from which four of the five participants then launch themselves tied with ropes to descend to the ground. The fifth remains on top of the pole, dancing and playing a flute and drum. According to one myth, the ritual was created to ask the gods to end a severe drought.