July 27, 2016
Anita Miller, San Marcos Daily Record
Indigenous Cultures Institute (ICI) was invited to join the Mermaid Society and present its pre-powwow show as the grand finale of the first Mermaid Week SMTX 2016 festival, scheduled from Sept. 10 through 18. The indigenous Condor Danza event is set for Sunday, Sept 18. from 3: to 5:30 p.m. at Cuauhtemoc Hall, 1100 Patton Street in San Marcos. “We are thrilled to be part of this wonderful new festival that will be a signature art event in San Marcos,” ICI Executive Director Maria Rocha said. “And our Condor Danza will be a thrilling closing event with two professional Aztec dance companies from Dallas, Texas performing, and a breathtaking Native American art auction.” According to Mermaid Society SMTX literature, the society is a grassroots community organization committed to strengthening connectivity among like-spirited community partners. These entities work creatively and collaboratively towards a shared vision in support of the arts, river stewardship, historic preservation and a local living economy.
The indigenous history and culture in San Marcos is an important addition to the Mermaid Society. It brings to the partnership, the 13,000-plus years of Native American presence in an area considered by archeologists as one of the oldest, continuously inhabited sites in North America. The Institute works to bring visibility to this Native culture and to the sacred land and waters of San Marcos where their ancient relatives lived. The Condor Danza event features a traditional dance style that has become extremely popular throughout Mexico and Texas. Many dance groups in Texas use the “danza” as a form of ceremonial prayer and do not dance for the public. Some groups, however, have been taught a similar dance style that has been accepted for public performances. These feature dancers dressed in exotic regalia with huge headdresses of multi-colored feathers that sometimes incorporate animal spirits. The dance itself is fast paced with strong rhythmic steps that increase in speed to a controlled and spectacular frenzy. The two groups from Dallas are Cuicani In Xochitl, which includes a mesmerizing flute player, and Mitotiliztli Yaoyollohtli that features a family of dancers with children. They will dance at Cuauhtemoc Hall which features a large central dance area and seating for 400. The Sociedad Cuauhtemoc donated the use of their facility as a gift to the San Marcos community. “Both dance groups are part of our ceremonial family and perform their professional dances so that we can share our culture with the public,” said Dr. Mario Garza, chair of the Institute’s board of elders.
“They even invite the audience to join them in the danza, teaching people the ancient steps that our ancestors danced.” The art auction will feature exceptional art such as a dramatic red-ink Geronimo serigraph on raw black paper by J. Nicole Hatfield (Comanche-Kiowa) from Oklahoma, an ancient-medicine-man acrylic painting by Arnulfo Peña (Mescalero Apache) from Watauga, Texas, a four-piece beaded jewelry set by an indigenous artist from Chiapas, Mexico, a set of dolls dressed in traditional Huichol-style clothing, a beaded medicine bag by Native artist Virgie Ravenhawk and more, plus items from local merchants. “This is indeed a unique art auction for San Marcos,” Rocha said. “And the funds raised will support our Sacred Springs Powwow set for Oct. 8 at the Meadows Center.” Sponsors of the event include the Sociedad Cuauhtemoc, Mermaid Society SMTX, San Marcos Arts Commission, Texas Commission on the Arts, and the Tomblin Family Foundation. Tickets for the event are available on the Institute’s website, www.IndigenousCultures.org and can soon be purchased at Mermaid Society locations in San Marcos. For more information call 512-393-3310 or email ICIinfo@IndigenousCultures.org.