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Tarahumara: Dances of the Raramuri Natives of the Sierra Madre in Northern Mexico
Calpulli Mexican Dance Company researches the powerful, ritualistic dances of the Raramuri natives through a series of free workshops open to the public throughout early 2008.

Picture by Cristian Pena

The workshops will explore the history of a disappearing culture through the dances that are valued dearly by its members. With this knowledge, the company will develop a new choreographic work. You are cordially invited to be part of a unique dialogue and witness our first steps in the creation of this repertoire.

The following FREE workshops will explore the Tarahumara dances through performance, movement, lecture, and dialogue led by Calpulli’s artistic directors.

Saturday, June 7th at 12PM and Sunday, June 8th, 2008 at 2:00PM
TOPAZ ARTS

55-03 39th Avenue in Woodside, Queens
Directions: 7 train to 61st St. / www.topazarts.org
Space is Limited/ Cupo Limitado
For questions and registration/ Para preguntas y registracion,
call/ llame al 718-507-2617 or write/ escriba a info@calpullidance.org
The project was also made possible in part to the generous support of the Curtis W. www.calpullidance.org McGraw Foundation.
RARÁMURI “Los de los pies ligeros”

Project Background
Calpulli's Tarahumara project is viewed in one sense as a rescue of important research completed in the 1960's by Professor Francisco Flores with the Ballet Folklorico de Cd. Juárez in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico. Flores' research focused on the dance traditions of a deeply private people known as the Tarahumara- the Spanish-imposed name of the Raramuri natives. In his research, Flores found extensive information about a people who believe God is pleased by music and dance. In particular, his research focused on dance history with the Raramuris beyond Christian-influenced traditions, which are by far less well known or documented in the current day. Flores went on to create a two-hour production showcasing the Raramuri's rich dance form in which Daniel Jáquez - Calpulli's artistic director- performed.

Now, Jáquez along with Calpulli's artistic staff take on the task of re-collecting key information, which was initiated in January 2008 with an extensive trip to Cd. Juárez. As part of this continued research and development, the company invites the general public to be part of this exploration.

More about the Raramuris
The name Raramuri translates to "people." The Raramuri natives have long been known for their endurance and their "pies ligeros," referring to their ability to run long distances with their light, agile feet. Rarely do people know of their values and their unique perspective on life. Raramuris are private, spiritual people who have long valued their lifestyle in the open lands of Sierra Madre of Northern Mexico over the comforts of the modern world. Furthermore, they are also a people who place dance as essential to their rituals to ensure arrival of good spring weather for crops. In mid-February, the Raramuri begin playing their traditional drums, and there is a drum playing for 40 continuous days. They prefer to pray in ritual dances over verbal forms.

Jesuit and Christian missionaries alike recognized the Raramuri dance-oriented method of prayer and introduced popular dance forms like those of the "Matachines"- dances with roots tracing back to Europe and in particular of Italian influence. Raramuris often perform on Catholic holy days and dances are performed for rain, healing, and at burials. While these dance forms are more common in Mexico, Calpulli seeks to explore beyond the Christian-based dances.

Despite their impressive ability to survive, the Raramuri face challenges including availability of land for their crops, malnutrition, and a modern world that increasingly pushes closer and close. Increasingly, Raramuri can be found in the large cities of Northern Mexico often on the outskirts driven by the need for sustenance and the resources of metropolitan areas. They are an endangered people whose rich culture, traditions, and history compel us to contemplate our own values, beliefs, and sense of balance in life.
 

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