Format of la danza

There are ten dances, or sones ("tunes") in the repertory. A performance cycle usually consists of three dances plus la procesion, completing each danzante appearance. La entrada and la batalla are usually, but not always, performed only once during the fiesta, as the two opening dances at the velorio.

The Basic Step: The same step is used in all the dances except la entrada, la batalla, and la procesion. See description of step on pages 50-52.

Opening positions: The danzantes are in two parallel lines, or files. The monarca with a malinche at his left -- or one malinche on each side of him in the dances that use two malinches -- is between the lines at the back of the hall. The abuelo is between the lines at the front. All except the abuelo face front (Figure 1).

Opening sequence: The abuelo calls for turns (¡huelta!), one outward and away from the center, one inward. He then calls "¡Por fuera! " ("to the outside") to begin the opening procession. Casting off, the first dancer in each line turns outward and leads his men in single file toward the back (Figure 2). This is done in a fast pedestrian walk as the violinist plays. The abuelo, meanwhile, moves straight up the center to meet the monarca and malinche who have been waiting at the back between the lines. When the two line leaders reach the back they turn their line inward again and advance down the hall, "picking up" the monarca and malinche on the way (Figure 3). Everyone then breaks into the basic dance step and advances together. The abuelo dances backward in the lead while the monarca and malinche dance abreast of and between the leading danzante pair. After another pair of turns, the pattern of the specific dance begins.

Closing sequence: When the dance pattern proper is complete, the abuelo calls for turns again. The monarca and malinche lead the left line of danzantes in single file in front of the right line and outside it to the back. Meanwhile the right line backs up and moves inward a few steps toward the center (Figure 4). When the monarca and his line reach the back, they turn the corner behind the right line and advance forward toward their original positions. When the two lead dancers are parallel with each other -- about midway down the hall -- everyone advances together, as in the opening procession (Figure 5). The abuelo calls for turns again, and the procession is repeated in reverse, left line marching in front of right to the back of the hall, all coming forward together. With the danzantes in their original places and the monarca and malinche now up front between the lines, the abuelo calls again for turns. To complete the dance, the danzantes, as one unit, retreat and advance three times, each back-and-forth using one basic step sequence. The dance ends with a bow, a tilt from the waist over the right leg which is forward and straight. As they drop forward, the danzantes sweep their guajes in a pass from the front to the right along the ground. 

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