Tuesday, March 5, 2013

La Danza de los Viejitos

Danza de los Viejitos

As a boy my father told me stories of elaborate dances that he would see as a child in various towns in the state Michoacan Mexico. "El Baile de Los Viejitos," he would tell me- which translates to the Dance of the Elderly- was the most popular Baile Folklorico (Mexican Folk Dance) in the state (Click HERE to learn about the various Folk Dances throughout Mexico).

Although every state seems to have their own particular dance, such as the well known Jarabe Tapatio or Mexican Hat Dance indigenous to the state of Jalisco.   El Baile de Los Viejitos originated in Michoacan.  It is per say, the official dance of the local people, playing a major role in Mexican cultural identity.

El Baile de los Viejitos derived from the native worship to El Dios Viejito (the elderly god).  Although stylystically the dance varies throughout the Michoacan region; nonetheless, the dance is meant to be a humerus one.  The dancers wear masks with elderly faces design, and some individuals include long wigs.  The attire fashioned is of a traditional campesino (Mexican peasant) clothing.  The performers begin the dance at a slow pace, aching and hunched forward as an elderly individual would.  They clamp their backs and move around slowly with a wooden cane, hitting the earth with it.  The dance is performed in an almost tap dance fashion.  The instruments used to dance along with are for the most part instrumentos de cuerda  (chord instruments), such as the violin.

This dance, amongst the various others, has become a big part in Mexican culture, and the dances themselves have become syncretic (mixed or blended) with Spanish, Native, and even African culture.  Furthermore, the dances provided the Mexican people with a sense of national and cultural identity (Mestizo culture), especially after Mexico's independence from Spainish and again in the Mexcian Revolution.