Mesoamerican Culture, History, and Religion

Danza Azteca — Quetzalcoatl’s Descent to Mictlan

Here’s the video of the Aztec dance performance of part of the story of Quetzalcoatl’s descent to Mictlan, the Land of the Dead, to retrieve the precious bones so that humans can live again. It’s a nighttime performance, which is a perfect fit for the setting. Mictlan was described as a place of perpetual darkness, coldness, and night. The lighting is mostly from the bonfire and a few lamps, so it’s very moody looking and the shadows and light accentuate the motions and costumes of the danzantes.

Update 4/21/2008:

Go HERE to watch the dance, as YouTube seems to have yanked the plug on embedding this particular video.

Quetzalcoatl is portrayed by the dancer in the birdlike, beaked mask who’s carrying the serpent, while Mictlantecuhtli is played by the dancer with the lion’s-mane-like headdress with a skull in the center of the fan of feathers. Mictlantecuhtli’s servants are creatively portrayed by children in skeletal costumes. You’re probably wondering “Why kids? That’s not scary!” I think they’re echoing the myths that portray Tlaloc’s helpers, the Tlaloque, as miniature versions of the goggle-eyed Rain God. If Tlaloc’s assistants are mini-Tlalocs, then why not have the Lord of the Dead’s be miniature Mictlantecuhtlis? Either way, it’s a nice casting choice.

4 responses

  1. xuchilpaba

    Oh. Update your post. I got “We’re sorry. this video is no longer availiable.” 😦

    April 20, 2008 at 6:04 PM

  2. cehualli

    Argh, and it was working fine for several days. Freaking touchy people not liking linking to their videos via embedding… Ok, I replaced the embedded version with a text link to the dance video, so it’s working again, and hopefully this time YouTube or whoever won’t kill it. Now it just opens a new tab directly to the YouTube page that has the Quetzalcoatl vid. Enjoy!

    April 21, 2008 at 12:52 AM

  3. xuchilpaba

    I can see it! I liked how bird like the dancer was. My fave part was at the end when Quetzalcoatl gets chased! 😛

    April 21, 2008 at 6:32 PM

  4. cehualli

    Glad the new link is working right for you. Yeah, I loved his mask, and the delicate, bobbing, birdy movements of the dancer. His portrayal of Quetzalcoatl practically flew. The chase scene was great — I started laughing the first time I saw it and this little army of Mini-Mictlantecuhtlis suddenly come charging towards the big bad Feathered Serpent and run him off. Delightful casting choice on the part of the dance director!

    April 23, 2008 at 5:31 AM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s