*Note: The following detailed description supplements mention of the baile
grande given in Dancing with the Virgin: Body and Faith in the Fiesta
of Tortugas, New Mexico (University of California Press, 2001: 164-5).
It is a group variation of the indio dance (also called the Tigua or Pueblo
dance) described in the book. While people considered the indio dance
to be traditional and unchanging, some formations for the baile grande were
invented recently, within the last fifty years. While the formations of the
indio dance were performed by only two or four couples at a time, those
of the baile grande were performed by all the dancers together. These
formations included parallel lines (I below), an X (II below),
and a Christian cross (III below). Done to one of the songs of the indio
dance, and using the same basic step, its innovation lay in the choreography.
The baile grande is done on December 12th, in front of the church of Nuestra
Señora de Guadalupe and during the final procession at the changeover
The following description refers to the baile grande done on December
12, 1987; among the dancers, there are 12 men and 12 women. The men's
line to the north, women's to the south, face each other about ten feet
apart. From the perspective of the virgin and the church, men are to the
left, women right. The Pueblo drum group is behind and between the lines.
With the start of the song, the dancers take up the duple-beat Pueblo
For the first formationsion, the two lines begin perpendicular to the church
and transit to four lines parallel to the church. They then reform back
into their opening two-line perpendicular positions. The transitions proceed
The two lines begin facing each other. Dancing in place, the lines divide
in half, the front half facing backward, the far half facing forward.
All file outward and back into place (Figure 1). Thus, when they
re-form, the far halves of each line face the church, the near face the
drum group (Figure 2).
From here, the leaders advance their lines inward and, passing each other,
stop when the groups are side-by-side, making four parallel lines (Figures
3 and 4). In these positions, all dance in place.
The first person in each line then leads his or her group back into the
original two-line formationsion (Figure 5), near halves facing far
halves (Figure 6). Mens and womens lines turn in to
face each other, and the entire pattern repeats for a second time.
There is no break in the music leading into the second figure when the
dancers form themselves into and out of the shape of an X.
As a transition between formations, the two lines face inward toward each
other, dancing in place. To begin the figure, the dancers turn so that
the front half of each line faces forward while the far half faces back.
Those in the front halves file forward, turn toward each other, and pass
each other by, so that men and women are reversing places, ending facing
away from the church (Figure 7a). Meanwhile, in the far halves
of the lines, the far person in each line leads his or her group in a
file outward and forward again, back into their original places, but now
facing forward (Figure 7b).
Thus, women comprise the near half of the left line and the far half of
the right, while men comprise the near half of the right line and far
half of the left. Near halves face the drum group, far the church (Figure
8). The head person in each of the four groups next leads his or her
half-line toward the center point, where the four lines meet. Those following
the lead person position themselves into the arms of the X
(Figure 9). All dance in place.
To return, the man and woman leading the far halves of the lines simply
lead their lines forward, out, and back, into their original positions
facing the drum (Figure 10a). The man and woman heading the front
groups lead their lines inward, past each other's line and back into their
original positions, facing the church (Figure 10b). All the dancers
face in toward the opposite line.
The entire X formationsion is repeated.
One repetition of the parallel
lines formationsion follows.
This ends the first section
of the dance.
There is a break in the music before the third formationsion, the cross. The
dancers begin, as before, with the lines facing each other. The men turn
in place toward the drum and file back and inward, returning to place
facing the church, while the womens line turns towards the church
and files forward and outward, returning to face the drum.
The mens line now files forward and out, away from the womens
line, while the womens line files back and inward toward the mens
line (Figure 11). The women fall into place behind the last man
in the mens line, while the leading half of the mens line
turn inward to intersect their own line at the place where the women meet
the men (Figure. 12 and photograph) In the final formationsion, there
are three men jutting out on each side of the main line, thus forming
the bar of the cross (Figure 13). All dance in place, facing forward
toward the church, then rotating clockwise to dance facing north, then
east, south, and once again west toward the church
To return from these positions, the men forming the horizontal bar of
the cross face right and file forward (Figure 14a), passing in
front of the main line of men, who fall into place behind them(Figure
14b). Meanwhile, the women behind the men on the vertical bar of the
cross circle to the left, back toward the drum, and forward into their
original line (Figure 14c). Thus the lines end with men facing
the drum, women the church. The lines now face each other, and the pattern
begins again, this time with the women forming the bar of the cross. This
sequence is as follows.
The two lines face each other and begin the dance step. The men file forward
toward the church and out, returning to place facing the drum. The women
file back and inward, returning to place facing the church. Now the women
file forward and out, while the men file back and inward, falling into
place behind the womens line. The forward half of the womens
line turns inward midway to form the horizontal bar of the cross, intersecting
the vertical bar where men have fallen in behind women. Again all dance
facing forward, turning clockwise toward the north, east, south, and west
To return to their original places, the women forming the horizontal bar
of the cross file left and forward, crossing in front of the women forming
the vertical bar of the cross, who fall into place behind them, all returning
to their original line facing the drum. Starting with the first man behind
the bar of the cross, the men file right, back, around the vertical staff
of the cross, and forward into their original places facing the church.
The lines turn in to face each other. The polvederos (shotgun guards)
deliver a shotgun blast, and the dance is over.