Wednesday, May 18, 2011


In previous posts I have described and commented on la danza Aztecs and la danza Matlachines, both of which I saw in San Miguel de Allende during the celebration of el dia de la conquista. The third dance performed that day was la danza del torito. I was not able to make any sense of this dance, thinking it must be a version of a carnival dance. Then I stumbled on a post from “mexicobob” which provides a description and explanation. Have a look at his post: mexicobob.

Photo: in the photo above you are able to see two of the three maranguillas performing that day (one of these may have been la borracha), el viejito (with the cane), el charo (the one with the little horse) and the devil with his whip. Other dancers, including the bull, were there but not in the photo.
The viejito

Perhaps this is the rancher

El toro and one of the Maranguillas.

Bob’s description of this event makes sense to me except for the role of the bull. Having read Max Harris I have begun to look for “hidden transcripts” and considering that the dance took place during the celebration of the conquest, I wondered if the bull in fact wasn’t a representation of the Spanish (the invader or the foreign). Is the message: they too will pass and we will remain? But, it the dance was first performed in 1830 and the primary character is a hacienda owner we are talking about those of pure Spanish blood but born in Mexico (Criollos), the group which began the first revolution and in spite of the significant role of Morelos (the indigenous military leader who first talked about independence and equality) came to own the land and dominate politics. Further, if the dance began in 1830 I am quite sure it was a creation of an indigenous group (rather than mestizos) and it would have a message. Is the dance then a show of resistance to this group? If we follow the logic of Harris, very few dances are just entertainment, there is frequently a hidden message. Could it be as simple as: the Spanish - or the Criollos - are caught between evil and death. But evil didn’t win out during the dance so we are left with death being the victor. The indigenous peoples are represented by the “apache” (I have not seen this dancer in two viewings) but since he is also defeated this does not appear to be a dance of resistance. Or, is it a more obvious dance of resistance with the toro representing the indigenous people who will only be defeated by death?
This is "el Moco"

I am open to suggestions on how to interpret this dance.

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