In southern Mexico, dancing to forget the earthquakes
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Saturday, July 20, 2024


In southern Mexico, dancing to forget the earthquakes
Elizabeth Lopez (R) and Luis Vicente Sanchez, from Juchitan de Zaragoza, pose during a rehearsal for the Guelaguetza traditional festival in Oaxaca, Mexico on July 29, 2018. Guelaguetza ("offering" in Zapoteca indigenous language) has its origin in a quake which devastated Oaxaca in 1931. Omar TORRES / AFP.

by Sylvain Estibal



OAXACA (AFP).- After the earthquake that devastated Juchitan in southern Mexico in September last year, Jorge Jimenez and his dance troupe sprang into action.

The 8.2-magnitude quake -- the most powerful ever recorded in the country -- killed at least 96 people in the area.

Entire families were buried, and the town hall was split in two. Streets were left strewn with debris, and residents had no water or electricity.

"We helped to find survivors and distributed food," recalls Jimenez, the director of Juchitan de Zaragoza, a traditional dance troupe.

"Then after a while, we decided to dance because the population needed some distraction to overcome the shock."

But the many festivities that are a usual part of life in the community were all cancelled in the wake of the earthquake.

"We are still in mourning," says the 33-year-old Jimenez.

The dancers nevertheless decided to go to Oaxaca, the capital of the state of the same name, to take part in Guelaguetza, the biggest traditional Mexican festival.

"We want to thank the country for its support" and proclaim "to the world that 'Juchitan lives, and long live Juchitan!'" Jimenez says.

'Deep cultural traditions'
The large Guelaguetza gathering, which means "offering" in the native Zapotec language, was itself founded after an earthquake that devastated Oaxaca in 1931.

Following the quake, locals decided to create a celebration bringing together the many local cultures "to pray to the Virgin and express solidarity," said Alfonso Martinez, the spokesman for Oaxaca state.

Much more than just a festival, Guelaguetza has been a must on the region's social calendar for 86 years, and showcases the variety and richness of what Martinez calls the country's "deep cultural traditions."

Every year, 30 troupes present their unique culture in a parade and performance before 12,000 spectators, dancing in colorful costumes -- some with a pineapple or even a vase in hand, others wearing demon masks and cracking a whip.

The event, broadcast on local television, has achieved great success, attracting more than 110,000 visitors to Oaxaca for the annual festivities.

For the capital of the second-poorest Mexican state, the economic benefits are significant, estimated at over $16 million, according to local authorities.

The Guelaguetza festival is also a link between the numerous communities, which are sometimes isolated in a mountainous state where agrarian conflicts sometimes lead to violence.

On July 16, 13 people were killed in a clash between groups of farmers in the south of the state.

Traditional culture still alive
Participating in Guelaguetza is a time-honored for the many communities of this region of four million inhabitants.

The selection committee is made up of 10 former dancers whose average age is 75 -- but whose judgment is sharp.

"We traveled 29,000 kilometers (18,000 miles) last year," says Margarita, the 82-year-old chair of the selection committee, which is also known as the "authenticity committee."

The committee members roam remote villages and select the very best troupes.

"We evaluate the quality of the dance, the clothing, the hairstyle, the chemistry between the couples," she says.

The stakes are high -- if a certain community is not selected, its members sometimes go so far as to protest in the capital or complain to the media.

"Participating is a great pride for us," says Nivardo, 34, the director of another troupe.
The state of Oaxaca is home to "the most indigenous communities; 16 languages are listed," says Martinez.

There is no question of wearing a redesigned dress, or introducing a dance inspired by Beyonce.

Here, each costume tells a story.

A pattern on a dress "symbolizes the mountains that overlook the village," while embroidery can represent a river that crosses the hamlet, or even the underworld, says Nivardo.

From an early age, children are immersed in their local culture.

Some young people listen to hip-hop, but they never get away from their cultural roots, says Graciela, 31, a dancer from Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec.

"We learn music before we even know how to write," she says. "These cheerful rhythms define us -- it's our culture."


© Agence France-Presse










Today's News

August 5, 2018

Rijksmuseum exhibits a selection of masterpieces from art dealership M.L. de Boer

MoMA invites Peter Fischli to organize exhibition drawn from museum's collection

Exhibition at The Albright-Knox Art Gallery features major works by some of the leading artists of the 1960s

Frick acquires rare vase by Luigi Valadier, eighteenth-century Roman silversmith

National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art opens retrospective of the work of Yun Hyong-keun

Magnificent Hopewell culture cache of prehistoric artifacts soars past estimate selling for $162,000 on Bidsquare

Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires reopens refurbished and expanded galleries

Hales Gallery now represents British artist Mary Webb

Crocker Art Museum exhibits 60 contemporary works by 30 acclaimed ceramic artists

MoMA PS 1 presents Rockaway! 2018 featuring site specific installation by Yayoi Kusama

Creative Time 2018 Gala to honor artist Pedro Reyes

Science Gallery London to open at London Bridge this autumn

Barthélémy Toguo's multi-disciplinary work on view at the Parrish Art Museum

A new work by artists Deyson Gilbert and Leopoldo Ponce on view at Galeria Jaqueline Martins

Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair to feature photobooth images in a special talk and exhibition

In southern Mexico, dancing to forget the earthquakes

Exiled Syrian actress who took on Assad buried in France

Winner of the 2018 Young Architects Program provides setting for Warm Up Summer Music Series

El Museo del Barrio welcomes Susanna V. Temkin as Curator

The Contemporary Jewish Museum opens exhibition of works by Oxossi Ayofemi and Risa Wechsler

Performance-based portrait photography by Anouk Kruithof on view at Casemore Kirkeby

Art Toronto announces exhibitor list 2018

Top Art Exhibitions in Africa 2018




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful