Two dance groups brought a taste of ancient Mexico to Brook Park in Mott Haven on June 1.
The groups, Kalpulli Huehuetiahtolli and Atl-Tlachinollli, performed traditional dances, sold native art, served traditional food and raffled off a headdress filled with feathers, as part of an effort to raise funds for a new community teepee. They are among five such groups in the city that represent the Mexíca people of central Mexico.
The Mexíca call their dance and related activities “tianguis,” in their native Nahuatl, literally translated as an outdoor bazaar.
“We share the culture with the community, and it keeps our way of life alive through dance, song, and artwork.”, said Yaocihuatzin, 29, a member of Kalpulli Huehuetiahtolli, who helped organize the event.
Yaocihautzin’s group of 30 dancers was founded two years ago, but similar organizations have kept Mexíca dance alive in the city for over a decade. She said that although the dance is native to central Mexico, it’s not exclusive to inhabitants of the region.
“We’re open to anyone who likes to dance,” she said “We’re open to all nations and people.”
Brook Park has hosted the Mexíca dances and activities for the last 10 years.
“The park is very important to a lot of us,” said Cenzontle Cuicatl, who sold “Aztec Regalia” necklaces at a booth. Events like the tianguis connect members of the Mexíca community with other residents unfamiliar with Mexican traditions, he said. The performances and activities also help link Mexíca children living in city the to their culture and ethnicity, he added, pointing out that Brook Park is an ideal location to hold the dances in.
“Brook Park is one of the few places where we can play the drums and people aren’t going to get annoyed,” Cuicatl joked, while dancers of all ages formed a circle around a “capitán,” who kept the beat on a ceremonial drum.
Dancing regularly in one location is an important part of the ritual, Yaocihuatzin said.
“All our dances are to the elements, to nature,” she said. “There’s a connection to nature and this land.”