Accepted Paper:

Reimagining the Aztecs: the transformation of a dance form that never changes.  

Author:

Susanna Rostas (Cambridge University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper looks at how dancers in Mexico City bring a world that is very different from that of their everyday life into material form by means of their dance practice backed by an explicit ideology which at its inception challenged the practices of others.

Paper long abstract:

This paper looks at how dancers in Mexico City bring a world that is very different from that of their everyday life into material form by their dancing and the clothing that they wear to enact it. Known as the Mexica, they aim by means of their practices to reinvent the reality of the Aztecs. Initially their movement, altered (very self-consciously) the way the existing dances (of those who call themselves 'Concheros') were performed, restyled the clothing, modified the ritual language and generally reshaped the representations. The Mexica's stance was a political one that claimed that the Concheros' practices were strongly influenced by Spanish antecedents: they thus performed in separate groups and often in different locations. In the early 1990s, there was a very clear difference between the ideology of the Mexica and the far less overtly stated beliefs of the Concheros whose tradition was still at that time largely an oral one. However although many Concheros denied that their practices ever changed, it was clear to the anthropologist that modifications frequently occurred. The paper will trace how the new ideas put forward by the Mexica which were of their time (the 'celebrations' for the 'discovery' of the Americas), have slowly persuaded the Concheros that change is acceptable making the distinction between the two more difficult to draw as each has taken on aspects of the other's practice: the Mexica have softened their anti-Catholic stance while the Concheros have become more 'Aztec' and their strong admonitions against creativity have weakened.

Panel P027
Materialising the Imagination: How People Make Ideas Manifest