This blog will delve into the cultural and entertainment aspects of folklorico music and dance of Mexico. It also will host the show notes to the podcast titled "Arriba! Folkorico music and dance of Mexico."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The more famous dances of Jalisco: La Negra and El Jarabe Tapatio

When the Charro would get to the town square or plaza (usually after the religious services) on a Sunday, there might be a small fiesta in the town square (which was usually in front of the church).

Around the fountain or the gazebo (kiosko), there would be some mariachis playing their music as part of the celebration. The ladies of the town would come out of the church and attend the festivities in the plaza. Since the young ladies were not allowed to converse in public with young men they did not know, they would stroll (usually arm-in-arm) with their chaperones (or alcahuetas), and they would travel in a circular path around the gazebo.

The young Charro would notice the pretty senorita with her chaperone and would then walk on the outer perimeter in the opposite direction of the ladies. When he would pass by them, he would tip his hat (sombrero) to them and wish them a good day in greeting. This would happen throughout the hour, and the Charro might then gather with his family or some of his male friends and companions. But if a young lady caught the attention of the Charro, he would then try to make his acquaintance -- even though he would not be allowed to speak to her alone or directly, due to custom and the chaperone -- in a manner than less formal and more casual.

When the music of the mariachis began to play some of the dances that were typical in the region (sones jaliscienses), the Charro would ask the senorita to dance. As they danced near the gazebo and near the music, the gentleman and lady would perform the heel-and-toe steps (plantas, tacones, puntas, etc.) in the spirit of the regional folklore and zapateado jalisciense. The ladies, with their bright dresses -- adorned with colorful ribbons and lace -- would perform the zapateado and also twirl in lovely turns, flaring their long, flowing skirts as they imitated the dove and the butterfly (faldeo).

The Charro might then become more bold and try to flirt with the young lady as they danced, since this may be the only time he would approach her in a casual and close manner. The young lady would have fun in being coquettish and flirt back with him, smiling and enticing him as they danced (coquetona). As they would pass each other in the choreography of the dance, the man would attempt to get as close to her as possible, trying to sneak a smile -- and in some cases, even a small kiss -- from her in passing, as they would flirt with each other (much to the chagrin of the chaperone).

In some sones jaliscienses, such as El son de la Negra, the flirting was exaggerated, the movement was the liveliest, and the rhythms of this vibrant dance would excite the emotion of those in the crowd who were looking on. At the end of the dance, the Charro would twirl his partner almost two revolutions, then cover both their heads with his wide-brim hat (sombrero), and finally sneak a small kiss from the young senorita.

In other customary dances, such as the jarabe tapatio (otherwise known in the USA and the rest of the world as the "Mexican Hat Dance"), the Charro would toss down his hat on the ground, and the couple would dance around it, with the Charro chasing her while doing the steps of the dance -- symbolizing the pursuit of man for woman. At the close of the dance, the lady would pick up the hat and lift it over her head -- a symbol of accepting the affection of her suitor, from the old tribal dance of the Huichole indigenous tribe, where the dance originated. The final bars of the dance would sound with the diana --a military march that signified victory. As in all jarabes mexicanos, the pursuit of man for woman ends in triumph for the couple. As this courtship dance finsihes with the symbol of marriage, the man kneels in front of his lady and the senorita holds his hat above her head -- the union of man and woman.