"La Danza de la Pluma" to be presented in New Mexico
Metamorfosis Documentation Project (Armando Espinosa Prieto and Craig Johnson) is completing a collaborative project with the community of Teotitlán del Valle, a village in southern Oaxaca, to document La Danza de la Pluma (The Feather Dance).
In the last phase of this Project, Metamorfosis Documentation Project will bring the current dance group, Grupo de Promesa 2007 - 2009, from Teotitlán de Valle to New Mexico to present this traditional dance.
In Santa Fe, the Dance will be presented at the "¡Viva Mexico! Theme Weekend" event at El Rancho de las Golondrinas on July 18, and at Plaza Contenta in Tierra Contenta on July 19. The event at Plaza Contenta will include a screening of Metamorfosis Documentation Project's documentary film, "La Danza de la Pluma. Faith, Sacrifice and Tradition", and a multi-media presentation featuring the cultural history of La Danza de la Pluma and its relation to the Matachin dances of New Mexico and northern Mexico. This event will be a family event free to the public, and will also feature select local vendors offering traditional New Mexican and Mexican food and refreshments.
In Albuquerque, the Dance will be presented at the National Hispanic Cultural Center on the Plaza Mayor on July 25. The event will include a screening of Metamorfosis Documentation Project's documentary film, "La Danza de la Pluma. Faith, Sacrifice and Tradition".
In Socorro, the Dance will be presented at El Camino Real International Heritage Center on July 26. The event will include a screening of Metamorfosis Documentation Project's documentary film, "La Danza de la Pluma. Faith, Sacrifice and Tradition", and a multi-media presentation featuring the cultural history of La Danza de la Pluma and its relation to the Matachin dances of New Mexico and northern Mexico.
History of the Documentation Project
Espinosa Prieto and Johnson interviewed the dancers and other community members in Teotitlán del Valle in November and December of 2007, and then filmed the presentation of La Danza de la Pluma for the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe on December 12. After returning to Santa Fe and editing the documentary, they returned in May of 2008 to Teotitlán del Valle where they worked with the Balaa Xtee Guech Gulal Community Museum Committee and other community members to establish a permanent exhibit of the Danza de la Pluma in the Community Museum.
On June 8, 2008, on the Civic Plaza of Teotitlán del Valle, in conjunction with the local authorities, Metamorfosis Documentation Project presented the community with the documentary La Danza de la Pluma. The rights of reproduction for the documentary were given to the Community Museum, so that it can sell the DVD to its visitors. The Museum receives all of the proceeds from these sales, with the additional income designated for the maintenance and improvement of the Museum.
The event also featured the inauguration of the permanent exhibit of La Danza de la Pluma in the Community Museum, a presentation of La Danza de la Pluma by the current Grupo de Promesa (Promise Group), and a screening of the documentary in the Municipal Auditorium for the community.
On July 21, 2008, Espinosa Prieto and Johnson participated in the Santa Fe Art Institute's 2008 lecture series, "Outsider: Tourism, Migration, Exile". They presented the Metamorfosis Documentation Project and in particular this collaborative project with the community of Teotitlán del Valle, La Danza de la Pluma Project. The presentation focused on what Espinosa and Johnson refer to as "fair trade art and anthropology".
In April of this year, the documentary was selected for screening in the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
In this current phase of the Project, the documentary,the results of this cultural interaction and now the Dance itself are being presented to communities in the United States. Espinosa Prieto and Johnson hope to stimulate these audiences to reflect on and more fully appreciate their own cultures, and to foster respect and support for all cultures and traditions while highlighting their historic position in our modern world.
La Danza de la Pluma
La Danza de la Pluma is a traditional ritual dance still being performed in the Oaxacan valleys in Mexico. It is a cross-cultural conquest dance, part of the cycle of Conquest Dances, and closely related to the Matachín dances, which are still performed in indigenous and Hispanic communities in New Mexico and northern Mexico.
The modern La Danza de la Pluma originated from Mixtec and Zapotec dance rituals in Oaxaca under the influence of the Spanish colonizers. It incorporates the struggle between Moctezuma and Cortez, Christianity and paganism, with several variations as to the ultimate victor. It has deep cultural significance and importance, with dancers committing themselves for a three-year period, and involves much ritual preparation and community involvement. The essential element of reciprocity, of "paying your dues" for the benefit of the community, is evidenced by the dancers' commitment.
While La Danza de la Pluma is performed throughout Oaxaca, Teotitlán del Valle (whose translation from the Nahuatl is "Place of the Gods in the Valley") is the oldest known settlement in the valley of Oaxaca; it is referred to as the Spiritual Heart of the Sacred Valley of Tlacolula. Teotitlán del Valle is currently considered the guardian of the Zapotec culture of the valley, and its presentation of the Danza de la Pluma is renowned. Teotitlán del Valle is world renowned for the Zapotec weavings it produces. The village is still governed by a system of "Usos y Costumbres" (literally translated as Uses and Customs), in place since pre-Hispanic times. It is a community / communal system of government, with an emphasis on cooperation for the good of the community and support for its individual members.
Santa Fe presentations of La Danza de la Pluma Project:
El Rancho de las Golondrinas
334 Los Pinos Road,
Santa Fe, NM
2 PM, July 18, 2009
Plaza Contenta in Tierra Contenta
6005 Jaguar Drive
Santa Fe, NM
1 PM, July 19, 2009
Admission: free for this event.
Albuquerque presentation of La Danza de la Pluma Project:
National Hispanic Cultural Center
1702 4th St SW
1 PM, July 25, 2009
Socorro presentation of La Danza de la Pluma Project:
El Camino Real International Heritage Center
I-25, Exit 115
35 miles south of Socorro
10 AM, July 26, 2009
Admission: for this event free to all New Mexico residents.
Adults, $5.00. Children 16 and younger, free.
"Documentan presentación de la Danza de la Pluma." Noticias de Oaxaca. 27 May 2008: C4:1.
"Atrapa Documental a 'La Danza de la Pluma'." El Imparcial. 21 May 2008: E5:1.
"Metamorfosis busca proyectar la Danza de la Pluma." Tiempo. 23 May 2008: A46:1.
Presentan Documental. Informativo. Canal9, Oaxaca. 9 June 2008.
Radio Cafe interview, KSFR, Santa Fe. 21 July 2008.
Metamorfosis Documentation Project
Santa Fe Art Institute