Mexico is a large country of about two million square kilometeres. Before the Europeans arrived in what today is Mexico (back in the early 1500’s), there were hundreds of different tribes and civilizations, each with its own culture, language and territory. Then, the Spanish culture settled on top of this mosaic of cultures, mixing with all of them. Today, five hundred years after the arrival of the Spaniards and two hundred years after independence, those different civilizations still have an impact on Mexican societies and cultures. And while seen from abroad, Mexico is a homogeneous country where the majority of the population is mestiza (mixed European and Native/Indigenous blood), Spanish speaking and Roman Catholic, in reality, every region of the country has its own culture. These differences are seen in the music, costumes, food and traditions. What follows is a trip around some of the many regions of Mexico through their folklore music and dance.
Zapateado (Footwork) comes from the Spanish word zapato meaning shoe. In Spain, flamenco dancers use their shoes as percusion instruments by stomping their feet on the (usually wooden) floor. When Spaniards came to America, each region of the continent adopted the zapateado of the flamenco and modified it to suit particular tastes in music and dance. Today, folklore dances from everywhere in Latin America include different styles of zapateado. You will find that the different dances of the different regions of Mexico have different styles of stomping the shoes on the floor according to the region. The shoes the dancers wear have nails on the soles and heels to make the stomping sound louder.
Faldeo or faldeado (skirtwork) comes from the Spanish word falda meaning skirt. Women from many regions of Mexico traditionally wear very long, (often colorful) skirts that may contain as many as thirty meters of fabric. That makes the skirts heavy. While dancing, women often manipulate the skirts in such a way that makes the watcher become almost hypnotized. The styles of faldeo also vary from region to region. In the picture below, you can see Stephanie from our group, performing the very high, vigorous faldeo of the western state of Sinaloa.