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The Danzante tradition continues, as we experienced during
the recent dance practice held at the Canon de Carnue Land Grant Hall, in July. Cosponsored by the Canon de Carnue Land Grant
and the UNM Land Grant Studies Program, the event succeeded in giving 16 new
potential Danzante youth an exposure to the steps of the dance, the music and the
meaning of the head-dress, the palma and the guache (rattle).
the performances at the Fiestas is a well-established way for young potential Danzantes
become familiarized with this special aspect of their cultural heritage. At their first Fiesta in 2018 in Carnuel at
the Santo Nino Mission Church, my young granddaughters who were then (4 & 5
years old) reacted immediately to El Toro (the bull, who let them touch his
horns and then snorted at them to their delight!), El Abuelo (the grandfather, with
his whip and lasso), La Perejundia (the comic and provocative old lady, with
the bag of candy) and La Malinche (the young girl wearing the coveted MOST
beautiful dress!). The antics of the afternoon
performance resonated with them, and since then we have attended more
Fiestas. When we watch videos of the
processions and performances, they are captivated and respond rhythmically by
nodding their heads.
Little did I know until their first Fiesta in 2018 that my
granddaughters’ paternal Grandfather, Lee Arnold Griego had been a
long-standing Danzante until his tragic passing in 2014. I do have a wonderful recollection of the impressive
and meaningful procession of the Matachine Danzantes at his rosary in the Holy
Child Church in Tijeras, however I didn’t realize that it was a special honor
performed for Danzantes who have passed away.
The dance practice my granddaughters attended in the Land
Grant Hall was well organized, with the little future Malinches (cousins, by
the way!) sitting together on the side, watching and taking turns as the dancing
was rehearsed. I was so surprised to see
my youngest granddaughter wearing the head-dress of El Toro, and then later
playing with the lasso and then the whip!
What good-natured mentors the leading Danzantes are to tolerate such
The chance to make and decorate their own palma, and guache
(a plastic maraca) was a further enhancement to the whole experience. The little future Malinches were completely
engrossed in gluing, painting and selecting flowers, feathers & hearts for their
palmas, thanks to Venessa Chaves Gutierrez (UNM Land Grant Program), who
co-organized the event with Moises Gonzales, the Canon de Carnue Land Grant President
(who is a Danzante). The children’s snacks provided were very popular as well, helping
recharge the teens in between the dance sessions.
Nurturing this tradition is meaningful to the Danzantes, as well as to families who enjoy the Church and Fiesta performances throughout the year. Even those of us (like myself) who were not raised with this traditional experience, can recognize and appreciate the important feelings of belonging, reverence and community these experiences provide to our children and grandchildren.
There wil be a practice for youth interested in the Danzante & Musico traditions at our Canon de Carnue Land Grant Hall: 12-2 on Saturday July 20 – Free BBQ to follow. Activities and Crafts for youth are planned.
For more info, call Venessa Chavez Gutierrez at (505) 400-0940