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Ann Murdy | profile | all galleries >> La Danza de la Pluma in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

La Danza de la Pluma in Teotitlán del Valle, Oaxaca

On December 12, 2009 El Grupo Promesa 2007 - 2009 performed their last dance for Our Lady of Guadalupe. This is the only dance group that makes a three year promesa to dance for the saints in their village. The commitment is based on faith to give thanks for an unexpected blessing, to ask for the well being of everyone in the community or for their family. Their promise is made to God, the patron saint and the church. It is believed that if this promise is broken one can become physically ill. This undertaking made by the dancers is an expensive one as they have a least three dance costumes; two feather headdresses called penachos and they’re responsible for sharing the expenses with the church committee for the numerous fiestas that take place throughout the year. The expenses for the fiestas are the cost of paying for the band, food, beverages and sponsoring parties in their homes for the saints.

In the group from Teotitlán del Valle, Moctezuma and the danzantes are the Aztecs. Each of the danzantes have a different military rank; there are two teotils (ministers to Moctezuma), two war captains and four allied kings. The four allied kings come from other nearby kingdoms to aid Moctezuma in his war campaign against Cortés. At a certain point in the dance Moctezuma goes to sleep and removes his crown. It is the dancers responsibility to guard Moctezuma’s crown while he sleeps. All the danzantes and Moctezuma wear feather headdresses called penachos. They are about four feet in diameter and they are made from downy feathers. Tiny mirrors are embedded in the feathered headdresses.

A procession took place before the dancers began their last dance in front of their beautiful church. Their wives and relatives took part of the procession carrying hand painted gourds holding candies. Once the three hour dance was completed a mini-Guelaguetza (a gift) took place. The danzantes threw fruits and candies into the joyful crowd as mezcal was served to one and all. This last dance was truly inspired as the dancers seemed to be tops spinning in the air. At 5:00 AM the fiesta ended when the last firecracker was shot off into the early morning sky, the music stopped and a new day began. ¡Que viva la fiesta!
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Flying in the afternoon
Flying in the afternoon
Manuel as Moctezuma
Manuel as Moctezuma
Adjusting strap
Adjusting strap
La Malinche and Doña Marina
La Malinche and Doña Marina
Clowning around
Clowning around
Flying
Flying
Danzante procession
Danzante procession
Dancing away
Dancing away
Danzantes
Danzantes
Procession of Danzantes
Procession of Danzantes
Doña Marina and the danzantes
Doña Marina and the danzantes
Armando
Armando
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