In pre-Columbian México, the ritual dance ceremonies of the Azteca people were a way of engaging in prayer with the deities of the sun, earth, sky and water. The rites and ceremonies in the cities of Tenochtitlan and neighboring Tetzcoco, and their symbolic art and architecture, gave expression to an ancient awareness of the connection between nature and humanity. The indigenous dances are rituals performed in adoration of the sun, mother earth and in celebration of life. The brilliance of the costumes comes alive with brilliant vivid reds, blues, purples, and gold that adorn their exuberant feathered headdresses along with their attire, and musical instruments. The Aztec dancers communicate across generations to carry on a tradition which they have been entrusted with.
Michoacán is one of the province states that dispute the musical and popular dance supremacy in Mexico. It is a beautiful state full of traditions in food, handcrafts, music and dance. The richness of this state's culture consists in a combination of its strong ethnic roots and strong Spanish influence. As in many of the Mexican dances, Michoacán dances combine religion and pre-Colombian traditions. The mosaic begins with the one of the most popular dances of this state "La Danza de los Viejitos" (Dance of the old men), that is danced mainly by men, wearing a Purepecha styled costume with a "morral" (bag) and a "sombrero" from which colorful ribons are hanging. Other jarabes are well known such as"Jarabillo de Tress and "Jarabillo de los Novios" (Dance of the fiancés), a romantic dance that symbolizes a couple that is getting married.
The music and traditional dances of Chiapas are very cheerful and come from both indigenous and Spanish roots. The Marimba which is the most representative instrument of this state, also owes its roots to the Afican rythms. To the compass of the sounds from the wood instrument, these dances are simple but carry rhythmical steps that can become frenetic with complex footwork. The Danzon has become a signature dance of the region, performed in such dances as "Las Chiapanecas" and "El Alcaraván".
The northern part of Mexico also known as el Norte is recognized for its energetic and joyful dances. These dances, the polkas, chotis and redovas became popular during the Mexican Revolution of 1910 with some dances evolving as recently as the 1970's. The music and dance forms are highly influenced by Central European countries, including Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Germany, mother of the accordion sound that is now symbolic of "norteño" music.
Veracruz is the land of fishermen and home of the oldest and most important port in Mexico. Their music is comprised of a mixture of Spanish music influenced by African and Caribbean rhythms. This lively and contagious music is played on a harp, jarana (small guitar), and requinto (small rhythm guitar). Its dances, Sones and Jarabes are made up of very intricate footwork or “zapateados” with flamenco characteristics. The complex footwork is the emphasis in the fast-paced Veracruz dances. The women wear beautiful white long dresses decorated with gold that represent the ocean and sea life.
The dances of Durango originated in Europe. The polka and schottische is danced in this region. In the beginning, dances were "corrida y huarachazo" (running and flat footed steps). The ability of the man to move the women, using brusque movements called "jalón" or pull gives the dance a special style and distinct rural character.
The Yaqui Indians from the state of Sonora and Sinaloa continue to execute this dance in a way that is believed to be almost identical to the way it was performed before the arrival of the Spanish. The dance of the deer, which represents the spirit of the forest, is incarnated in the traditional Yaqui Deer Dancer, who imitates the graceful movements of the animal in its free state. The dance is performed to the accompaniment of a scraper and flute. The dancer carries rattles in his hands, and tied around his legs are tenabaris, dried butterfly cocoons, which also ratter as he dances. The head of a young deer tops the headdress of the dancer. La Danza del Venado" (The Dance of the Deer) has been danced on the shores of the Pacific since ancient times. The Yaqui Indians honor the deer as the center of their religious culture. The dance is a symbol of their respect for the deer's endurance of spirit, as depicted through the deer's struggle against pursuing hunters.
Known as the land of mariachis and the infamous "Jarabe Tapatio," known as the "Mexican hat dance" is embraced as the national dance of México. The folklore in Jalisco has turned into one of the national symbols par excellence. Dances and tunes (sones) reached a development in the late decades of the last century, such as the Dance of the Rope and the Jarabe Tapatio, along with La Negra. With their rhythmic footwork, large sombrero charro, and colorful dresses, the dances from Jalisco express the characteristics of the Mexican culture and evoke the heart and soul of Mexico.