Monday, November 18, 2013

Michoacan, Yucatan, San Luis Potosí & Nuevo León - Week 46

Hello everyone! I hope you're all doing well! Last week's post was a big hit!  It shot right up the charts and into the top ten most read blogs! Thank you.  I'm still getting the face paint cleaned up from behind my ears and out of my goatee!   Over 7300 pageviews now, almost to my goal of 7500. After posting last week, Richard redefined my my role/title in his dance group.  I said I was the "Administrator" and he said I'm the "Co-Director"!  Wow that's a step up!  One thing I failed to mention was Richard is also the "Choreographer", so you can add that to his list of titles!

In other news, on Saturday our performance turned out to be a bigger deal than I initially anticipated! I got to dance with Mariachi Los Camperos!  Norma and I danced the Jarabe Tapatio together!  It was nice to share the stage with friends of ours, musicians and dancers, for this special event.  I even got a new red tie and black sombrero for the show! And another exciting development this week, Olvera Street hit me up and asked if they could use some of the photos from our Dia de Los Muertos performance for their advertising and publicity!  How awesome is that!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

A very special welcome to the countries of Italy and Slovenia this week.  Thank you for checking out my blog!  This week I want to explore four Regions of Mexico and the regional dancing that accompanies them.  Two of the Regions, Michoacan and Yucatan, are Regions that Herencia has performed in the past - although we have only practiced them since I have joined the group.  Hopefully, in 2014, they will be put on stage!  The other two, San Luis Potosí and Nuevo León, are Regions that Herencia has not danced, but I found some information on them and thought I should share.  First up, Michoacan!

Whenever someone asks me where I'm from, I always answer Michoacan!  Actually, I'm from Michigan but Michoacan sounds so close!  It always brings a smile the person asking.  So let's see what Wikipedia states about Michoacan: 

"Michoacan, formally Michoacan de Ocampo, officially Free and Sovereign State of Michoacan de Ocampo, is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico.  The state is divided into 113 municipalities and its capital city is Morelia (formerly called Valladolid).  The city was named after Jose Maria Morelas, one of the main heroes of the Mexican War of Independence.

Michoacan is located in South-Western Mexico.  It is bordered by the states of Colima and Jalisco to the west and northwest, Guanajuato to the north, Queretaro to the northeast, the State of Mexico to the east, and Guerrero to the southeast.  To the southwest, Michoacan has a stretch of coastline on the Pacific Ocean.

The name Michoacan is from Nahuatl:  Michhuahcan, from "michhuah" (professor of fish) and "can" (place of) and means "place of the fisherman" referring to those who fish on Lake Patzcuaro."

Michigan is known as the Great Lake State and lots of people like to fish there, so it appears that there is a bit of a similarity in that aspect.  Guess my claims of Michoacan might not be as far fetched as I originally thought!  As far as the regional dancing is concerned, The Houston Institute for Culture states this:

Michoacán (South):
"Michoacán is largely inhabited by indigenous people.  Unlike many of the Mexican Indian tribes, women are allowed to dance.  The men wear the muslim white pants and shirts embroidered at the legs and arms with a sash, a poncho, and huaraches.  The women wear a black skirt and multi-colored apron with a white embroidered shirt.  They wear a long black head wrap tied behind their head wit a straw hat sometimes adorned with multi-colored flowers.  Most famous to that region is El Baile de Los Viejitos or Dance of the Old Men. This was a chance to mock the Spanish ruling class by doing a dance hunched over like old men with canes.  They would wear a mask looking like an old European (pink face with white hair).  This dance is customarily done during festivals like El Dia de los Muertos.  This is a missionary influenced holiday in which the padres allowed the Indians to celebrate their Indian rituals of honoring the dead by combining it with All Souls Day.  Indians believed that it would be a day when their dead's souls would come back to earth to savor earthly delights.  Therefore, they would (and still practice) bring some of the dead's favorites and wait at the cemetery for their loved ones.  This has also become a day for family to customarily gather, pray, reminisce and bond."

To explore The Day of the Dead more, read last week's post called "A Deadly Transformation" and week 30's "The Day of the Dead".  

On the website PELinks4U they have a section called Mexican Folkloric Dance: Bailamos?  There you will find under Example 1 the dance of Los Viejitos.  Los Viejitos is probably the main dance that is often associated with Michoacan folklorico.  It's a dance that I am looking forward to performing someday.  I'm an old man already so I might not even need the mask!  This site has provided the steps and counts for you to learn the dance.  There's even a video link!  Check it out and have some fun with it.

According to PELinks4U the common costume for the old men is: 

"Shirt and pants made of manta material, a jorongo or a zarape to drape over the shirt, a straw sombrero (hat) decorated with colorful ribbons that hang over the rim, a paliacate (scarf) to wear under the sombrero, a moral or peasant bag across the shoulders, and huaraches (sandals).  A mask, or mascara, is worn that resembles the facial features of an elderly man.  A cane (baston)."

Check out Richard and I sporting our masks on my birthday back in August.  Makes sense now why the masks are white men with blue eyes!:

Of course there is dress for the ladies as well.  Check out this photo of women's Michoacan costuming:

Some other features of Michoacan dancing I have seen is the use of sonajas during some of the dances.  In another dance called La Botella, dancers had brightly decorated bottles in which they placed on the ground and danced around them.  I have also seen dances of drunken old men stumbling around foolishly on stage.  Sure to put a smile on your face and make you laugh.

The next region is Yucatan!  Here's what Wikipedia says about the State of Yucatan:

"Yucatan, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Yucatan, is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico.  It is divided into 106 municipalities, and its capital city is Merida.  

It is located in Southwestern Mexico, on the north part of the Yucatan Peninsula.  It is bordered by the states of Campeche to the southwest, Quintana Roo to the northeast and the Gulf of Mexico lies off its north coast.  

Before the arrivals of Spaniards to the Yucatan Peninsula, the name of this region was el Mayab.  In Mayan language, "ma'ya'ab" is translated as "a few".  It was a very important region for the Mayan civilization, which reached the peak of its development on this place, where they founded cities of Chichen Itza, Izamal, Motul, Mayapan, Ek' Balam and Ichcaanzihoo (also called T'Ho), now Merida.

After the Spanish conquest, Yucatan Peninsula was a single administrative and political entity, the Captaincy General of Yucatan.  Following independence and the breakup of the Mexican Empire in 1823, the first Republic of Yucatan was proclaimed which then was voluntarily annexed to the Federal Republic of United Mexican States on December 21, 1823.  Later on March 16, 1841, as a result of cultural and political conflicts around the federal pact, Yucatan declared independence from Mexico to form a second Republic of Yucatan, but eventually on July 14, 1848, Yucatan was definitely rejoined to Mexico.  In 1858, in the middle of the caste war, the state if Yucatan was divided for the first time, establishing Campeche as a separate state (officially in 1863).  During the Porfiriato, in 1902, the state of Yucatan was divided again to form the Federal territory that later became the present state of Quintana Roo.

Today, Yucatan is the safest state in Mexico and Merida was awarded City of Peace in 2011."

As far as the regional dancing that comes from Yucatan, The Houston Institute for Culture states this:

Yucatan (Southeast Peninsula)

"Yucatan is another Spanish trade port and Mayan kingdom conquest on the Gulf of Mexico.  The Spanish and Mayan influence on the wear is again notable.  The same white guayabera shirt and pants and red bandanna for men.  The women wear a Mayan design dress trimmed in white lace brightly embroidered with flowers, wearing shawls [or rebozos].  Their hair up in combs.  The music is acoustical and includes drums and tuba.  The Mayan people are still very visible in this State." 

When I first heard music from Yucatan it reminded me of carnival music a little bit.  It sounded like the music they use to play on carousel rides when I was a kid.  Some of the unique and fun features of Yucatan folklorico dancing are the use of props, like trays that have glasses and bottles on them that get balanced on the dancers head as they perform.  Another is either the snapping of fingers or the twirling of the rebozo over the head.  Very festive and a lot o fun.  The footwork is crisp and clean.  I really like the region and I can't wait to perform it one day.

Next on the list of states to visit this week is San Luis Potosí.  Here's some information on this one from Wikipedia:

"San Luis Potosi, officially Free and Sovereign State of San Luis Potosí, is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico.  It is divided in 58 municipalities and its capital city is San Luis Potosí.

It is located in North-Central Mexico.  It is bordered by the states of Nuevo León and Tamaulipas to the northeast, Veracruz to the east, Hidalgo, Queretaro, and Guanajuato to the south and Zacatecas to the northwest.

In addition to the capital city, the state's largest cities include Ciudad Valles, Matehuala, Rioverde, and Cerritos."

One thing I've noticed from writing about so many of these Mexican states is that there is frequently a city or capital that shares the same name as the state itself. At times when I search for information on the state, the information on the city come up instead.  Anyways, just an observation!  As far as the regional dancing, the Houston Institute for Culture states this:

San Luis Potosí (Central):
"While the majority of the Mexican population is now mestizo, one must not forget that there are still several different Mexican Indian tribes.  The more famous are the Aztec and the Mayan, but there are numerous others like the Huichol, and the Chichimeca Jonazj.  Though Spanish is the official language of the country, in Mexico there are 62 living indigenous languages.  The centrally located silver mine state of San Luis Potosí is one which has a large percentage of Huastec Indians.  It is well known for its silver mines and textiles.  Note the Indian colored ponchos the women wear with the yarn woven headpiece.  Marital status of women is known by the by the length of the ribbons that dangle in the back of the headpiece.  If she is available, the ribbons are long and worn cut short when married."

The last state we are exploring this week is Nuevo León.  Here's what our friends at Wikipedia have to say about this state:

"Nuevo Leon, officially Free and Sovereign State of Nuevo León, is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico.  It is divided into 51 municipalities and its capital city is Monterrey.

It is located in Northeastern Mexico.  It is bordered by the states of Tamaulipas to the north and east, San Luis Potosí to the south, and Coahuila to the west.  To the north, Nuevo León has a 15 Kilometer (9 Mi) stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border adjacent to the U.S. state of Texas.

The state was named after the New Kingdom of Leon, an administrative territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

Besides its capital, other important cities are Guadalupe, Santa Catarina, San Nicolas de Los Garza, and San Pedro Garza Garcia, all of which are a part of the Monterrey Metropolitan area."

As far as the regional dancing is concerned, here once again is what the Houston Institute for Culture claims:

Nuevo León (North):
"Nuevo Leon is a northern state that borders Texas.  When the Germans came, they settled mostly in the Texas hill  country and Nuevo León.  Unlike the hill country Germans who were mostly agricultural, the latter settled in Nuevo León to also establish breweries.  Their influence in Texas country-western music and Tejano music is unmistakable but often overlooked.  In the folklorico costume for Nuevo León, men wear the leather fringed vests or coats, boots, bandannas and cowboy hats.  The women wear clothes straight out of "The Sound Of Music".  Their hair is braided with ribbons.  The style of dance: polkas, waltzes and chotize, or "schottische".  The tuba sound in Mexican/Tejano music was improvised by base guitars and the accordion was introduced.  The accordion in Tejano conjunto music was mostly used by the common labor working people; not to be confused with Tejano orchestra music which was influenced by mariachis and the big band sounds of the 40s considered to be more urbanized.  Much of the original Tejano music was based on ballads or corridos from Mexican revolutions; another oral history form, such as: Adelita, Tiempos, Amargos, El Cuartelozo." 

So there you have it - four Regions!  As Richard and I were talking about our vision for Herencia Mexicana this upcoming year, we agreed that we should bring Michoacan and Yucatan to the stage! We also would like to see Colima and Guerrero too.  And we want to bring the Tamaulipas back into the mix.  All this means more costumes and lots of practice!  2014 is shaping up to be a fun-filled year!  Come and join us!

Until next week everyone, Wedo out! Here is some upcoming events:

Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":

Google E-mail:
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo

Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:

Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana

Note: Looking for your own adventure or journey? Herencia is a great place to find one!  Folklorico lessons and performances are both available. Herencia Mexicana performs for private & public events of all kinds. Book your event today! Herencia Mexicana welcomes new students. No previous folklorico or dance experience required.  All are welcome.


1 comment:

  1. Really enjoyed this tour through these Mexican states! It's comforting to know that Yucatan (especially Merida ) are fairly safe, compared to the upper west coast where I keep longing to go. Both regions are settings for my historical novels.