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Dance of the Concheros and Santiagos

Dance for the gods

Currently, Concheros are groups of ritual dance, linked to various religious festivals, especially those held on December 12, the day of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Among the names with which this dance is known are "dance of concheros", "aztec dance" or "dance of conquest".

The history of this dance goes back to the pre-Hispanic era; its religious character was transformed with the conquest and prosecuted by the Spanish evangelists. Collecting the nuance of honoring the trinity and especially the Virgin of Guadalupe, once this Marian advocation as Patroness and Mother of Mexico was recognized.

They are called "concheros" because the main musical instrument they use is a kind of mandolin, whose box is made of armadillo shell. Although pre-Columbian instruments such as huehuetl, teponaztli, ayacachtli and chachayotes still intervene in our days.

The dance is extremely complicated and each member has a hierarchical degree that imposes obedience. The Captain General has jurisdiction over a certain space and is recognized by all groups within him; said space can be up to a complete esplanade. He is followed in importance by the Captain of Conquest, who directs the dancers. Then two Sergeants: one of table or altar, where the religious images are veiled and another one of field that watches the execution of the dance. Two other captains in charge of caring for women are considered, among whom are two malinches, one flag-bearer who takes care of the banners, and one of the censer.

In addition, according to their dance skills they are placed, first on the right, first on the left. The lieutenants are in charge of carrying the banner during the ceremony. Such was the commitment to discipline that a mistake in execution implied a punishment of 25 lashes for men and twelve lashes for women.

The clothing varies from one group to another, but almost always consists of a skirt, knee pads, wristbands, breastplate and a feather plume. The feathers are pheasant, peacock, rooster, and even artificial. The fabric is bright and bright colors. In the right hand a rattle or the standard of devotion.

Its traditional execution can still be seen in the atriums of churches and in archaeological sites as part of a show: Chalma, Amecameca and Queretaro are among the most popular.

Sounds emanate from the pre-Columbian era, repeating their echo in instruments that refuse to allow time to cover them with forgetting.

Concheros y Santiagos

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Concheros y Santiagos

Learn more about this traditional dance of Mexico City

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