Is The History of La Danza Azteca?
Ca Mi'totiliztli Mexi'cayotl
is the Aztec Dance?
¿Que es la Danza Azteca
Mit'totiliztli, El Mitote, La Danza Azteca, La Danza De La
Conquista, La Danza Chichimeca, La Danza De Los Concheros,
La Batalla, El Sacrificio, The Aztec Dance , The Chicano-Azteca
Dance Circle, all of these names have been used throughout
the past four Hundred and eighty years to describe a complex
and ancient form of communication amongst the Native American
nations of central Mexico. Simply put, La Danza Azteca, is
a modern mystic folk dance tradition of Central Mexico based
on the cultural legacy of the "Aztecs", their enemies, and
their descendants. But then, that is like saying that the
Pacific ocean is "simply put, a big hole full of water".
Danza Azteca is a living, evolving, cultural tradition filled
with the artistic, spiritual and military traditions of the
Precolombian Aztecs, their neighbors, AND their post-conquest
Mestizo descendants. It is a form of prayer, individual,
and yet communal.
is a way of life, all encompassing. It is a form of ancestor
worship, and a way of communicating with the future yet unborn.
It is NOT just a modern folk dance tradition. In reality
La Danza Azteca is closer to a church service, than to a
Danza Azteca is a form of communication. It is a rich blend
of music, choreography, poetry, theater, and most importantly
of all, of deeply held spiritual faith. La Danza Azteca is
a culmination of fifty thousand years of cultural celebration
within the valleys and forest of central Mexico. It is ancient
and anachronous. It is modern and futuristic. It is as old
as the ancient alpine forests of Mexico, as current as the
urban jungles of Aztlan. It owes as much to the ancient gods
of Moctezuma as it does to the saints and virgins of Cortez.
La Danza Azteca is kinetic prayer.
brilliant colors in their uniforms, headdresses, and musical
instruments, the Azteca dancers communicate across generations,
sacrificing their bodies, their economic abilities, and even
their limited socio-political power, to carry on a tradition
which they have been entrusted with.
pre-Columbian spiritualism with Spanish folk Catholicism,
and to a lesser extent, African animism, the danzantes of
the Azteca tradition redefine modern Native American tradition.
Using intricate dance steps, turns and jumps, the dancers
evoke a kinetic prayer. Drums, seed pod shells, flutes, mandolins
and guitars, unite to create a mind expanding experience
that reflects the cultural heritage of Modern Mexico and
dancer according to his or her age, agility and physical
stamina, dances in cohesive unity to create prayer: kinetic,
powerful and emotional. The prayer is carried within the
dancer's heart and without the dancer's consciousness.
Azteca dance tradition is a climax of thousands of years
of cultural wars, conquests and ultimately, survival. This
is perhaps the greatest legacy of the Azteca dance tradition.
Through the dance steps, drum beats, and ceremonies, the
memory of ancient peoples survives into the 21st century.
Through this tradition, the largest indigenous nations of
America (the Mexican and Chicano Nations) find new spiritual,
cultural, political and economic power.
were the Azteca?
Quien eran los Aztecas?
Mexi'ca, were the last of the Native American nations that
had wandered south into the Valley of Mexico or Anahuac.
They were a heterogenous group of clans, families, and
individuals who were the inheritors of an ancient prophecy.
These people were the descendants of tribes that had migrated
over centuries from far north in what is now northern Mexico,
and the southernwestern United States (known historically
as Aztlan and Chicomoztoc).
to the codices written by our post-conquest ancestors in
Latin letters and indigenous glyphs, The people we call
the Aztecas lived in a land of seven caves Chicomoztoc.
There, in the land of the white heron Aztlan, the people's
priest Mexi had a dream.
this dream, the tribal god, spirit or anima (Teotl), called
Huitzilopochtli called to him. He was told to call all
of the clans together. They were to leave their ancestral
homes. The people were to go and journey south, carrying
their sacred bundles, family possessions and hunting regalia.
people were to suffer great hardships, tribulations, and
trials. Once they had traveled far enough south to earn
their valor, to earn their place in history, they were
to look for a special sign. Wherever this sign appeared,
they were destined to create a great nation that would
rule the world. They would be given the duty of keeping
the universe alive. They were to maintain the universe's
sacred movement, Ollin, necessary for all life to flourish
until the death of the current sun. When the current sun
Nahui Ollin died, the world would end and a new cycle of
life would begin.
priest Mexi called his people. He told them of his vision.
He told them of his dream. Some people quickly agreed to
follow him south. Others felt that they had all they needed
in their homeland and they did not want to leave. This
was the beginning of the separation of the Uto-Azteca nations.
those that had taken Mexi's vision as their fate, departed.
They left behind their relatives and friends. The pilgrims
were saddened by their god's request to leave their homes.
Mexi promised them that someday, their descendants would
return to once again join their relatives in Aztlan. Thus
reunited they would share their stories of all the wondrous
things that they had seen. They would share with each other
all of the history they had created.
is the belief of some modern-day Azteca elders that the
people who stayed behind are today's Hopi, Pima, Papago
and Yaqui nations.
Mexi'ca (the people of Mexi) wandered south for over three
hundred years. About the year 1300 they arrived in Anahuac,
the valley of Mexico. At this time, this small and impoverished
nation, more a coalition of tribes and clans than anything
else, was weak and only slightly assimilated into the great
cultural heritage of Mesoamerica. They wore simple clothes
made of wolf, rabbit, deer, and coyote skins.
cultural legacy was that of the small wandering hunter
tribes of Northern Mexico. Many generations had passed
since the priest Mexi had called them onto their epic journey.
they arrived in Anahuac, they found scores of ancient city-states
that had inherited the civilizations and cultures of Tollan-Teo'tihuacan,
Tollan-Xicocotitlan, Xochicalco, and Cholula. Deep in the
murky past, like ghosts that floated behind the consciousness
of every kingdom, were the cultures of Cuicuilco, Tlatilco,
Chalcatzinca, and the mysterious Olmeca.
first the Mexi'ca were forced to be vassals and mercenaries
of their older, richer, and more powerful neighbors, but
by A.D. 1325, ( a date filled with mythical, political,
and historical numerology), the Mexi'ca had begun to build
their double headed capital city of Mexi'co-Tenochtitlan
and Mexi'co-Tlatelolco. In less than two centuries, the
poor, humble "illegal aliens" from Aztlan became rulers
of the largest empire ever seen in pre-Columbian North
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Un Nuevo Sol Asiende
Mexi'ca, as the defacto leaders of the Azteca Triple Alliance
(which included their lesser business partners Tetzcoco
and Tlacopan) were disciplined, arrogant, and bellicose.
They saw themselves as the greatest nation on earth. They
felt that they had been entrusted with the survival of
city-state was the center of the universe, the navel of
the earth. The Mexi'ca felt that they had a right to re-write
history in order to make themselves seem to be the logical
and prophetic inheritors of the classic cultures of the
ancients. The poetry, stonework, artwork, and architecture
of the Mexi'ca people reveal a colossal, triumphant psychology
that finds modern echos in the cultures of Nazi Germany,
Stalinist Russia and Maoist China.
elaborate Mexi'ca elegance of style and protocol, mixed in
with their determination towards greatness, create a cultural
experience unique amongst the world's civilizations. Mixteca
painted books, Mayan chocolate and jade, Huastecan cotton
and other exotic tributes were gathered in the "center of
the universe"- Mexi'co Tenochtitlan.
warriors and nobles bathed in water scented with wild tropical
flowers. The elite lived a life of elegance. The nobles ate
sumptuous meals and drank hot chocolate, which was made from
cacao beans. These beans served as money. The rich could
literally "eat their money" while toe commoners ate beans,
tortillas, and native vegetables.
in many ways,( politically, economically, and psychologically),
the Mexi'ca were the spiritual ancestors of the United States
of America. The Mexi'ca bled their subjugated vassals of
economic, and cultural vitality.
to the "officially approved" history of the ruling class
of Tenochtitlan, the Mexi'ca were the center of the universe,
and were entrusted with keeping it alive. In their eyes,
they were the greatest nation to have ever existed. They
were the chosen ones, blessed as God's righteous and sacred
people. This has many echos in today's nationalistic, evangelical,
supremacist rhetoric from the dominant powers of today's
U.S.A. and Europe.
El Sol deciende
was no wonder then, that when the smelly strange white
foreigners from the east arrived in 1519, the Mexi'ca were
quickly abandoned by even their triple alliance partners
and left to fight for the independence of indigenous America
The "aliens," encased
in metal and riding wild "huge deer", came with superior
technology to the stone age civilizations of America. The
Spanish "sticks that spewed smoke", and the big black dogs
that tore apart human beings, suddenly, and painfully, united
with the hatred of the Mexi'ca's enemies to create the end
of the Aztec universe.
violence and hatred that the Tenochtitlan imperialism had
sowed, came back to create a gruesome holocaust at the very
steps of the great temple of the Mexi'ca-Tlatelolca, the
Coatepec-Huey Teocalli in Tlatelolco..
fall of Mexi'co-Tenochtitlan and Mexi'co-Tlatelolco in 1521
after a seventy day siege of starvation, epidemics and bloodshed
was inevitable. The death of Moctekwzuma Xocoyotzin,
Cacamac, and Cuitlahuac left the 25 year old nephew of Moctekwzuma,
Cuauhtemoc, as Tla'toani or speaker of the surviving Mexi'ca.
After a bitter battle fought on the waters of lake Tetzcoco,
Cuahtemoc was forced to surrender to Cortez, to his steel
and gunpowder, and to his tens of thousands of Native American
the Plaza de Las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section
of Mexico City, is a grim reminder of how indigenous blood
was shed for Spanish greed and passion for gold. It is a
monument to Mexi'ca arrogance and power. It is a silent scream
from thousands of ancient dead that recall with grisly detail
the fall of Mexi'co-Tlatelolco on August 13, 1521. For this
was truly the first of many last stands of pre-Columbian
civilizations against the invading forces of European kingdoms.
is a tragic symbol of the dis-unity of Native American nations
that still haunts us to this day amongst the reservations,
barrios, and jungles of America. It is a monument of death,
retribution, and vengeance. It was not the Spanish armor,
horses, gunboats, and diseases that finally overwhelmed the
great city of Mexi'co.
was the thousands of Native American warriors from the Mexi'ca's
own empire that helped bring down the Aztec world. In doing
so, the Mexi'cas enemies brought down their own world.
long last they had gotten what they wanted, the end of the
Mexi'ca empire that oppressed them. What they receive in
return was a horror tens of thousands of times greater than
what they had suffered before. The Totonaca, the Huexotzinca,
Tlaxcalteca, Tepaneca, Aculhua, Chalca, Culhuaca, and Coyoacanteca,
had put racial and cultural solidarity aside for political
expedience, hoping the Spanish would leave, or at least if
they stayed, that they would be no worse than the Mexi'ca.
they were wrong. The Spanish used them for their own needs,
when they were no longer useful, the proceeded to destroy
them too. For four hundred years, the descendants of all
the indigenous peoples of Mexico, have suffered from this
lack of unity. The Spanish, English, French, and Portugese,
used the indigenous nations' intrigues and jealousies to
divide and conquer this land for their "new world of opportunity."
of the legacies of this tragic lack of unity, is that even
today, north and south of the "International" border, set
up by the Euro-American powers, Native American people
cannot unite for a common cause.
are some Native American individuals that have bought into
the "Mexicans are not indians like us" mentality fostered
by many government agencies. Some even seek out the help
of immigration agents to keep the "wetbacks" on "their" side
of the border.
Murio La Tierra
the fall of the Aztec empire, the survivors had to face
a new world, a new dawn that promised only grief and pain.
The old gods had failed and a new pantheon of white faced,
blue-eyed icons reigned supreme. New diseases joined ancient
plagues. Cortes had said that the Castellanos suffered "from
a disease that only gold could cure." This "disease" killed
millions of indigenous people throughout the American continent.
invaders from across the ocean took many ancestral and tribal
lands for their private use. These "conquistadores," "pilgrims," and "adventurers" came
to "civilize" this new savage world. For the sake of the "dreams" of
the Europeans, the indigenous people were enslaved for the
sake of gold, silver, and sugar cane. When the native
people died off in incredible numbers, the Spanaish did the
next "best thing." They kidnapped and bought millions
of African slaves, so that they could take the place of the
original inhabitants of this continent.
Native American people who survived did so out of genetic,
spiritual and psychological strength. These 3 million survivors
out of a population of approximately 35 million people throughout
Mesoamerica were the ones that carried the ancestor's ancient
strength. These survivors of the holocaust of 1521-1698 are
our direct genetic Native American ancestors. They are the
ones that kept La Danza alive.
this death and pestilence, the old gods gave their blood,
and the new gods gave their flesh for a new people, a new
creation that would rise from the stench of decaying bodies
a survivor of the Holocaust in such places as Aushwitz, or
the killing fields of Cambodia or Uganda, could begin to
comprehend the horrors of this time. The old gods had failed
and a new pantheon of Saints, Virgins, and Demons took their
had happened once, long ago, in Teotihuacan, where the gods
of old made blood sacrifices to create the humans of the
fifth sun. There too the sun and moon were born anew.
throughout the American continent, and especially in Mexico,
the roots of the indigenous people were giving life to a
new race of Indigenous, African, Asian and European descent.
Danza Azteca, La Danza Chichimeca, La Danza de los Concheros,
La Danza de la Conquista, byh what ever name it was to be
known, the dance rituals of Mesoamerica were to carry the
seeds of the past into the future...
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