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The Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition of Mexico City was in between 1569 and 1820. Its task was to regulate the moral life of the society of New Spain and it was authorized to punish offenders. The crimes that were usually persecuted were acts against the Catholic faith (heresy, blasphemy, sorcery, and idolatry) or against accepted morality (indecency, bigamy, sexual harassment, homosexuality, and sedition). The Court placed limited attention to the sones de la tierra (sounds of the land) from 1766 to 1819. The sones were sung dances that were eventually considered unsuitable and were denounced for various reasons: the lyrics of the songs contained vulgar words or heretical or blasphemous concepts, the steps of dances were indecent, the choreography implied actions that parodied known acts of the Christian liturgy, or by some combination of these factors. The archive of the Inquisition of Mexico is practically the only source of information on music and street poetry in the cities and towns of the colony. The sones de la tierra are the origin of the current cultural music genre called son mexicano, the most significant part of the traditional music and poetry of the country. The sones de la tierra of the Baroque period and the current Mexican sones have three basic elements: music, poetry, and choreography. The music is based on recurrent rhythmic-harmonic patterns (ostinato) on which instrumental or vocal improvisations are made. Each determined pattern generates a son with a specific name. Thus, it is possible to speak of sones typical of the Baroque period (chacona, zarabanda, chuchumbé, and saraguandingo) or in present-day Mexico (bamba, maracumbé, petenera, and oaxacado). Some can be documented both in the 18th century and in the 21st century (matachines, fandango, panaderos, and zacamandú). The poetry of the sones is based on the active principle of the copla, a poetic form based on the octosyllabic quatrain in various modalities (seguidilla and décima). The current Mexican variants are directly related to the Spanish poetry of the Golden Age. The dance of the sones is performed mainly in couples who dance without having physical contact, using different steps whose main characteristic is the zapateado. The archive of the Inquisition of Mexico mentions some sixty sones. The complaints and interrogations of the Court provide information about the sung lyrics, the ways of dancing, the people who practiced them, their geographical distribution, and some social attitudes regarding their use. This information shows that the sones de la tierra were common throughout the territory of New Spain and were practiced by people of almost all social classes. The study of the sones de la tierra allows us to understand the existence and behavior of the different variants of the Mexican sones of today, which represent one of the fundamental elements of Mexican culture.

Article

The Departamento de Bellas Artes (DBA; Department of Fine Arts) was founded as one of the departments of the Secretaría de Educación Pública (SEP). It had a Music Section, which centered its activities on teaching music, at all levels in the entire country, with socialist ideology and under the firm belief that the fine arts should be part of the education of the people. To do so, it defined a repertoire of songs and their arrangements that was coherent and had a nationalistic discourse. The selection of songs was taken from diverse sources, some of which were the result of bibliographic research, mostly done in the DBA, but the important groups of melodies and songs that were sung in schools and adult choruses came from the National Music Archive, which was created to be the foundation and massive sample compilation of Mexican music. The composers and researchers at the time had little or no idea what the characteristics of indigenous music was; and to create nationalistic music and national dances, they needed references of what was Mexican, what was traditional. The archive was a massive and ambitious project, and the DBA was a national institute with the authority to write to all the governors in the country asking for references of folk music, local fiestas, and traditional dances, of which composers and researchers knew very little. Composers and musicians participated in sending in samples of scores or lyrics, then institutional programs were designed for rural teachers to compile music in distant regions and towns. Much of the material that was sent in was well known songs, popular ranchera music, and the indigenous music that was expected to create teaching and nationalist programs required so further research. Much of the music used in the educational programs derived from contributions made by rural teachers, and the indigenous music was compiled by few specialists who travelled only with their ears, pencils, and paper and returned with a rough selection of melodies that outlined the indigenous music of Mexico. Other sources of reference, music scores and dance descriptions, came from official events and dance contests held by the DBA in Michoacan, Hidalgo, Estado de México, and Mexico City.

Article

Grit Kirstin Koeltzsch

The cultural movement known as Hallyu (or Korean Wave) and the transnational popularity of K-pop music and dance have long been established as an important phenomenon in the global world, including in Latin America. This form of South Korean contemporary popular culture has had a major impact in Argentina, especially among the young population. Despite the cultural and geographical distance, young Argentines incorporate aspects of K-pop culture in their daily lives, including music, dance, K-drama, and food, and some of them even try to learn the Korean language. Thanks to technology, they perceive, almost in real time, what happens on the Asian continent and connect with fans and fandoms, not only in Korea but also in other parts of the world. This shows that globalization is not a process of homogenization; these young Latin American people also take the Korean Wave as motivation to learn about transpacific history and cultures. Furthermore, K-pop is a visual phenomenon, and dance plays an important role. The dance routines or choreographies are complex, and emphasize the music. Dance definitely transcends language barriers. Thus, young Argentines explore new aspects of corporality through dance performances. In their spare time, they organize dance contests and activities, and so generate spaces for their own articulation. It is particularly interesting to draw attention to gender role performance and the way in which local youth react to the influence of a transgressive gender identity performed by Koreans, in the context of a strongly patriarchal and heteronormative Argentine society. It shows that body/ dance articulation is not just a tool for creativity but also for disputing gender norms and stereotypical gender images in our society.

Article

In the middle decades of the 20th century, groups of Concheros dancing in public places began to attract academic attention. However, a much wider interest in their activities developed in the run-up to the celebrations for the so-called “discovery” of the Americas in 1992, when they were invited to participate in some of the commemorative events. Their dance tradition, one among many in Mexico, is often assumed to have been created either in the 1820s after Mexico gained its independence from Spain or more recently after the Mexican Revolution in 1910. Both were periods when central Mexico became more aware of the Aztec past and interested in reviving aspects of it, and the Concheros’ circle dances were thought to have been part of that revindication—an invented tradition. However, their history has more complex roots than this. The predominant myth claims that the dance began in the Bajio region in the 16th century, an area that had not been dominated by the Aztecs. Counter to that, however, are the beliefs that many began to advocate as the movement of Mexicanidad (or Mexicayotl) flourished during the late 20th century, which has led to the eponymous Mexica challenging many of the Concheros’ beliefs and practices.

Article

Fernando Ortiz is recognized today as one of the most influential Latin American authors of the 20th century. Amazingly prolific, his publications written between the 1890s and the mid-1950s engage with a vast array of subjects and disciplines. Perhaps Ortiz’s most significant accomplishments were the creation of the field of Afro-Cuban studies and major early contributions to the emergent field of Afro-diasporic studies. Almost everyone else associated with similar research began their investigations decades after Ortiz and in dialogue with his work. Ortiz was one of the first to seriously examine slave and post-abolition black cultures in Cuba. His studies became central to new and more positive discourses surrounding African-derived expression in the mid-20th century that embraced it as national expression for the first time in Latin America. This essay considers Ortiz’s academic career and legacy as regards Afro-Cuban musical study beginning in the early 20th century (when his views were quite dated, even racist) and gradual, progressive changes in his attitudes. Ortiz’s work on music and dance have been underrepresented in existing academic literature, despite the fact that most of his late publications focus on such topics and are considered among his most valuable works. His writings on black heritage provide insight into the struggles within New World societies to overcome the racial/evolutionist ideologies that justified colonial subjugation. His scholarship resonates with broader debates throughout the Americas over the meanings of racial pluralism and the legacy of slavery. And his changing views over the years outline the trajectory of modern Western thought as regards Africa and race, specifically the contributions of Afro-diasporic peoples, histories, and cultures to New World societies.