"A large number of dances are performed in Oaxaca, especially along the coast. These include the Chareos, Danza de la Pluma (the Zapotec version of La Conquista), Danza de las Mascaritas, Tejoneros, Danza del Tigre, Toro de Petate and Danza de Tortuga.
The three most common dances of the coast of Oaxaca and Guerrero are the Devil Dance, the Turtle Dance and the Toro de Petate (Straw Bull Dance), all of which are tied to the area's Afro-Mexican communities. The first three contains characteristics which are found only in this region and nowhere else in Mexico and include violence and even sexual overtures. The main characters, devils, turtles and bulls represented by those in masks, are mythical creatures which dance in the streets alongside humans who either challenge or subdue them. Other important Afro-Mexican dances include the Tiger Dance and the Tejorones."
"La Llorona (The Weeping Woman) [a.k.a. The Cry]:
Although several variations exist, the basic story tells of a beautiful woman by the name of Maria who drowns her children in order to be with the man she loved. The man would not have her, which devastated her. She would not take no for an answer, so she drowned herself in a river in Mexico City. Challenged at the gates of heaven as to the whereabouts of her children, she is not permitted to enter the afterlife until she has found them. Maria is forced to wander the Earth for all of eternity, searching in vain for her drowned offspring, with her constant weeping giving her the name "La Llorona." She is trapped in between the living world and the spirit world.
In some versions of this tale and legend, La Llorona will kidnap wandering children who resemble her missing children, or children who disobey their parents. People who claim to have seen her say she appears at night or in the late evenings from rivers or lakes in Mexico. Some believe that those who hear the wails of La Llorona are marked for death, similar to the Gaelic banshee legend. She is said to cry, "Ay, mis hijos!" which translates to, "Oh, my children!""
In some Aztec variations of the story, the story is linked to the fall of the Aztec empire as the discovery of the New Spain came into being and consequent demise of indigenous culture. Other variations of the story also say La Llorona seduces men and them drowns them out of vengeance for her lost love. Many image depictions of her are in a white wedding dress and veil. To some, the drownings are a symbolic metaphor for baptism, which is a sacred ritual to Mexicans.
Although there are many costuming options, I want to look at one that has been spoken of in many of the articles I've read. Perhaps because some find it a bit unusual or dramatic and eccentric. People love things that are over the top! Here is how the U.S. National Park Service and the Chamizal National Memorial in Texas describe this Oaxacan wardrobe:
Sonora's natural geography is divided into three parts: the Sierra Madre Occidental in the east of the state; plains and rolling hills in the center; and the coast on the Gulf of California. It is primarily arid or semi-arid deserts and grasslands, with only the highest elevations having sufficient rainfall to support other types of vegetation.
Sonora is home to eight indigenous peoples, including the Mayo, the Yaqui and the Seri. It has been economically important for its agriculture, livestock (especially beef) and mining since the colonial period, and for its status as a border state since the Mexican-American War. After the Gadsden Purchase, Sonora lost more than a quarter of its territory. From the 20th century to the present, industry, tourism and agribusiness have dominated the economy, attracting migration from other parts of Mexico."
As far as regional dancing from Sonora, I want to focus on just one dance that has gained popularity called Danza del Venado or Deer Dance. Here is what Wikipedia's Folk Dance of Mexico article states:
"Danza del Venado (Deer Dance) is performed in Sonora and Sinaloa and in the very far south of Arizona by the Yaquis and Mayos. This dance is most associated with these peoples' Lent and Easter celebrations, when indigenous beliefs mixed with the Catholicism introduced in the 17th and 18th centuries. The dance is part of ceremonies aimed at the renewal of the world in spring. Originally the dance was performed at night before hunting to ensure success, but today it is a means to communicate with other worlds. The deer dancer wears a shawl wrapped as a skirt with a belt traditionally made of deer hooves. He carries a gourd in each hand and ties rattles to his ankles. A real or imitation deer head is fastened to his head. Red ribbons wind around the horns to represent flowers."
Lastly, lets take a look at Zacatecas! Here is what Wikipedia says about it:
"Zacatecas, officially Free and Sovereign State of Zacatecas, 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 Zacatecas.
It is located in North-Central Mexico. It is bordered by the states of Durango to the northwest, Coahuila to the north, Nayarit to the west, San Luis Potosi and Nuevo Leon to the east, and Jalisco, Guanajuato and Aguascalientes to the south.
The state of Zacatecas is best known for its rich deposits of silver and other minerals, its colonial architecture and its importance during the Mexican Revolution. Its main economic activities are mining, agriculture and tourism."
Although information about Zacatecas folklorico dancing is limited, I found this description from The Mexican Folk Dance Company of Chicago:
"The company's version of Zacatecas is based on the state's incredible and peculiar musical style: Tamborazo Zacatecano (The Zacatecas Big Drum band). This Wind and percussion instruments band, is reminiscent of European ensembles left behind by the revolutionary movement of 1910. Local authorities in Central and Northern Mexico decided to use these musicians as Sunday entertainment in local town square gazebos.
The repertoire, composed initially of selected classical and semi-classical pieces, gave way to more traditional music, appealing to the taste of the locals. Thus jarabes, sones, polkas and other danceable rhythms became the selections of choice. Soon after, the bands left the gazebos and were booked to play at dances and other social affairs, or to follow a drinking party down the hillside streets of the city.
The gorgeous city of Zacatecas is one of the most treasured reliquaries of Mexico and has been declared Human Cultural Patrimony by UNESCO.
Costumes: Female costuming for the dance varies from region to region within the state. The women wear the traditional full ruffled calico skirt topped with a matching solid color blouse based on turn of the 20th century French couture. The men wear a pair of cowboy (Charro) pants, a white shirt covered with a dark jacket, tie a bandanna on their heads and a white sash on the waist. All dancing is done by couples and include lots of foot stomping.
La Marcha de Zacatecas - Mexico's Second National Anthem: In 1891, Genaro Codina composed "La Marcha Aréchiga" in honor of the governor (who then changed the name to Marcha de Zacatecas) and won a bet he had made against his brother in law. However, 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."
We made it! Five states of Mexico! There's so much to discover. Come back next week. In the mean time, the wedo is out!
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