Traditions behind

Mexico is a large country with many regions, most of which have distinct characteristics due to the influence of various cultural forces. Before the arrival of Spaniards in the early 1500s, numerous indigenous cultures existed throughout Mexico for millennia. These societies were complex and wildly diverse. The arrival of the Spaniards introduced European culture. Therefore the mestizaje—the mixing of races—that resulted was dominated in large part by European influence. However, the strength of remaining indigenous cultural characteristics, languages and religions created distinctly Mexican musical and dance styles. In the years following, people from all over the world including Africans, Asians and other Europeans, came to Mexico adding to the complexity of race and culture. As a result, each region in Mexico has its own food specialities, traditional dress, and unique music, dance and art forms.

Danza Mexica

it is an ancient tradition that was well established in Mesoamerica in the XVI century. Unlike today, spirituality and science weren’t separate opposing entities.

It comes from a time when almost all the continent, from what nowadays is known as Alaska to Nicaragua; shared the same cultural philosophical matrix, a way of understanding life and the world, where family, commonality, solidarity, education and spirituality were the foundations of this ethnic, linguistic and cultural plurality.

For Nahua people, dance is a complex philosophical belief, a cultural base and practice derived from the observation of natural life cycles of the universe; an approach to the sacred, natural world associated with maintaining and restoring balance, renewal, harmony, cultivating relationships, creative participation and veneration of the world/Earth on which we live.

In Mexica/Nahua society to move or to dance was in essence to live, life was guided by spiritual and natural elements. To dance, was a spiritual obligation. From the beginning of one’s life till the end; the goal is to achieve knowledge, understanding and wisdom, to achieve balance, to develop ourselves and to evolve as a human being. Dancing is one way that humans can achieve a full sense of self, it is the essence of the soul.

This dance has been a constantly emerging movement, an indigenous re-affirmation of identity that continues to inform notions of self, homeland, spirituality and community. It is also an ongoing practice of respect and reciprocity to the universe. The dance embodies movements particular to life cycles and stories and simultaneously the body itself experiences communication to the cosmovision, the particular understanding of the world, time and space.

The dances and ceremonies are dedicated not to Gods but to spiritual and cosmic forces that are alive and important enough to be thanked and loved. Human movements are a reflection of the Earth, in order for humans to maintain a connection to the Earth, they must know the Earth as they know their bodies.

Like the solar system, it is conducted, for the most part, in a circle. Each macehualli (dancer) symbolizes a planet that is constantly in motion and exercising its influence on the entire solar system. The dance circle represents the vastest part of the cosmic existence known to humans and the most basic element of our being at the same time.

Dance, as a reflection of life, is not in opposition but merely a different point of the circle of life. We dance in a circle but every dancer is for himself, within his place, a model of social organisation to honour both individual and collective autonomy.

The circle represents eternity and time, understanding that the measurement of time is cyclical. It represents the cycles of life from youth to elder, masculine and feminine energies and the union of all four directions and all relations that exist in the universe.

Hermano(a), danza y danza sin descansar,
no permitas que exista fatiga ni dolor en tus piernas,
en tu corazón o en tu pensamiento;
hoy más que nunca necesitamos de tu armonía.
Danza y danza sin descansar,
haz que tu cuerpo y tu pluma giren
girando tu energía
tocando los cuatro puntos del infinito
y las entrañas de nuestra madre tierra.
Hermano(a), danza y danza sin descansar,
enséñale a tu pueblo
y principalmente a tus niños
cómo se ama a la naturaleza,
al universo
y al recuerdo del origen de la creación.
Hermano(a), danza y danza sin descansar…

Everardo Lara González
Son Jarocho

Is one of the most representative musical genres of the State of Veracruz. A state in México that was a point of convergence between Spain, Africa, Asia and the Gulf, so the musical composition has African roots and influences and the type of zapateado has its origins in dances from Andalusia and a pre-flamenco from Spain, giving rise to what we know today. like “Son Jarocho” and “Fandango”.

Son jarocho is rooted in community participation, its own philosophy is to create a space of learning, joy and history through music where people come together to sing, play an instrument, dance and enjoy the company. Its philosophy is built on creating a collective based on community, it has been and is a tool to create connexion, a sense of home and belonging.

“A danzar se ha dicho, a retumbar la memoria con la percusión epidérmica. La memoria también se preserva con los pies, la danza es también otra forma de rito” Rubí Oseguera

Sones and Jarabes Jalicienses

It comes from a region in México that is nowadays known as the state of Jalisco but with roots also in Colima, Michoacán and Zacatecas. Influences from the indigenous people, travellers and the Spaniards that settle there and with them the African influence are some of the reasons why a vast variety of sones were developed.

The Mariachi represents part of the expressive culture of the Jalisco mestizo people and the creole of rural areas, strongly influenced by the Spaniards and Africans; and also the sensitivity of the indigenous people such as Wixárika, Purépecha and Cora. The differences can be observed in the instruments they use, the way it is sing and the musical composition and the way it is danced.

Bullerengue, Colombia

It is a style of dance and song that started on the Colombian Atlantic coast created by Afro-descendant people. It was preserved by oral tradition, sung exclusively by older women and instrumented with traditional handmade drums. A practice that remained secret and undocumented, almost as invisible music until recent years.

In its origins, an older woman proclaimed and improvised the verses while the community answered melodic ostinaos while clapping the pulse. The traditional drums were particular to the region.

Currently, the drums ensemble is made up of three drums: the one that strengthens the pulse, the caller who bears the setback and the cheerful one that assumes a complex musical language improvised and always particular to the performer.

There are also three types of bullerengue: El bullerengue sentao characterized by handling a slow tempo that oscillates between 70 and 96 beats per minute, usually with melancholic, reflective and daily-life themes; La chalupa at 128 beats per minute, which has festive character where the drums maintain the elementary roles but more complex and rhythmically more active; and El Fandango de Lengua, which may be the happiest of them, it develops a compass composed of 6/8 at approximately 160 beats per minute and is the only one where the llamador and the tambora have the same rhythmic pattern.


An approach to the Aymara culture

Since everything has a spirit, there is a deep respect for animals and plants (life). A gregarious sense of collectivity without private interest, solidarity between aiyús (villages), strong social cohesion and a common thought inclined to the well-being of all.

We all have cycles and we are part of Pachamama. Man has an earthly existence while nature is a global concept where the superior spirit is always present. The art of living is to reach harmony with the other.

As in the Mesoamerican Cosmovision, the Aymara culture visualizes a cyclical time where the future is what has not been seen and the past-present (Nayra-Pacha) is what is being seen or has been seen. Space/Time are “2” simultaneous realities that are only 1: Pacha that represents the totality and is holographic. 3 spiritual spaces are conceived: the Araj-Pacha, Aka-Pacha (Malku, Pachamama and Amaru) and Manqhapacha.

The Tinku Ritual (declared Cultural Heritage of Colquechaca in 2007) is an ancient tradition and encountering of Suyus (communities) as a payment to Pachamama, an exchange of something as precious as blood, in exchange for abundance, well-being and good crops. It is a complex ritual performed in what is now known as the Fiesta de la Cruz, Churi Fiesta, Tata Wila Cruz but which was originally the Chakana (southern cross constellation), in the Andean worldview it represents the bridge between the spiritual and earthly worlds of the Tahuantinsuyo (4 ways). Organised mainly in San Pedro de Macha, Bolivia; accompanied by dances, songs and music. The Jula Julas play a martial trot or a Wayño at the time of the encounter.

The word Tinku refers to the ritual, and although there is a fight (ch’axwa) within it, this is only a part of everything that happens. In the Aymara imaginary, history follows a course of oscillating and necessary integration and fractionalism: the dynamic fluidity of unequal and hierarchical relationships constitutes the social totality.

The word tinkuy in Quechua means “encounter” and refers to the symmetrical meeting of energy. The ethics of the meeting is carried out with sincerity, trust, dialogue and commitment.

The Tinku as harmony and conciliation. The encountering generates friendship and balance, the festive part and the song that accompany it represent the duality and complementarity of opposites since it is sung with sorrow but with hope, there is joy for triumph and consolation for defeat.

Tinkuy in relation to Pachamama. On earth, when two paths or rivers meet, they give rise to a larger one and more meanings. Such as the paradigmatic foundations of the Andean Culture:

  1. Seminal, because it follows the biological development model
  2. Reciprocity, because it has a harmonious relationship between the human being and his environment
  3. Holographic, the part is not understood without the whole
  4. Community, everyone is dependent on the other, and everyone is tributary to everyone.
    With them you can laugh and cry (Jatha), sing and dance (Ayni), sow and harvest (Pacha Mama), and live and die (Aylu Marka).

Tradition is older than nations. It is said that the first group formed to perform an urban version of Tinku was the “Tinkus Tolkas”, at the Oruro Carnival in 1981, directed by Demetrio Llanque. Currently, a festive version of the Tinku is performed in Bolivia, Perú and Chile. f.i. La Paz and Oruro, at the Puno Carnival, and at the Fiesta de la Tirana in Chile.

La palabra es eterna
Desde los huipiles, códices geométricos
que revelan la flora y la fauna de nuestras tierras.
Desde el cacao que reverbera
en las jicaras en los días de fiesta
Desde la flauta, aliento que guarda
el pentagrama de la memoria,
Desde los cerros y las lagunas
sagradas en el alba.
Desde la comida ritual, festiva y cotidiana
que ofrendamos a nuestros muertos,
Desde nuestros idiomas,
hemos resistido.

natalia toledo
(Poetisa bilingüe, escritora en zapoteco y español)

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