To keep the tradition alive and despite the Covid-19 pandemic, dancers, accompanied by musicians, go out to dance and sing their traditional melodies in Toluca de Guadalupe, a rural community in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala.
The dancers of this small town could not celebrate their festivities during Easter, so, after eight months of being in confinement, a small group of participants went out to tour the hills that surround their town to express their passion for traditions, which in its social nucleus have been developed for more than 80 years.
Throughout the northeastern highlands of Tlaxcala, there are dozens of exhaciendas that, at the time, were in charge of controlling and disposing of the labor of dozens of peasant families in the region, according to Don Ruperto, one of the oldest dancers.
From these practices of labor exploitation and abuses of power by the landowners, a peasant uprising arose that took place at the beginning of the 20th century, and which put an end to this situation.
According to the oldest records that are known, it was in the 1930s when the so-called Dance of the Knives emerged.
During the dance, the participants wear colorful shirts and long skirts.
These first dancers took up the history of land oppression and the subsequent peasant revolt to tell new generations the story of how the inhabitants of Toluca de Guadalupe obtained the freedom to be able to work the ejido lands and defend the identity of their people.
During the dance, the Nahuilas wear colorful shirts and long skirts; they represent the rebellious peasants and dance in circles, accompanied by the guitar and the violin.
Traditional music is a series of various original sounds from this town.
The Nahuilas also carries a whip that they sound to simulate the sound of thunder, accompanied by bells, which symbolize the rain.
Another feature that gives identity to this social group is what they call “talking backwards”. This way of expressing themselves consists of using antonyms to refer to actions or messages they use during their dances.
In accordance with tradition, this practice allowed rebellious peasants to speak to each other behind the backs of the foremen, a situation that made it easier for them to plan the revolt that ended oppression and exploitation by the landowners.
Source: El Universal