Friday, October 19, 2012

Chinelos Dancers celebrate in San Miguel

Another colorful aspect of the procession celebrating St. Michael in San Miguel de Allende, is the Danza de Los Chinelos.  The Chinelos dance is a regional folk dance that originated in the state of Morelos, south of Mexico City. The dance itself has pre-Hispanic rituals. The dance is called the bricon or the jump. Chinelo comes from the Nahuatl Indian word Tzineloa which means "I wag my hips." Chileno dances are always accompanied by a brass brand.  The live music is an essential part of the dance , like most celebrations in the Mexican culture. Chinelo dancing is passed down from father to son.  Over the last ten years, woman have joined in on the activities.
The dance evolved during the colonial period when Maximilian ruled and later Porfirio Diaz. These dances became a mockery of the Spanish with their fancy clothing, arrogant ways, fair skin and beards. It is a similar story like the creation of the Catrina by Posada that I wrote about on July 21, 2010.

Each town and dance group has its own distinctive costume. There are a variety of different colored tunics, many of them adorned with beads, coins, sequins and embroidery.
The hats are ornately decorated with decorative fringe, beads, mirrors and plumes. Anonymity is another element of the Chinelo's dress. A bandanna covers the neck and chin. The masks are made of mesh and papier mache featuring an upturned beard, a big mustache and light eyes. Gloves are even worn to hide the dancers identity. To ensure ones hidden identity, costumes are closely guarded and even new costumes are worn every year.

What a great procession with such creative costumes, masks and hats. I am in a short sleeve shirt and it is warm out. I can not imagine wearing these suffocatingly hot costumes, jumping and dancing in the hot sun for hours. All I can say, Viva Mexico and I am glad to be here, but not in costume!

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