By Paul A. Scolieri

Winner, Oscar G. Brockett ebook Prize in Dance study, 2014
Honorable point out, Sally Banes e-book Prize, American Society for Theatre study, 2014
de l. a. Torre Bueno® designated quotation, Society of Dance background students, 2013

From Christopher Columbus to “first anthropologist” Friar Bernardino de Sahagún, 15th- and sixteenth-century explorers, conquistadors, clerics, scientists, and tourists wrote in regards to the “Indian” dances they encountered in the course of the New global. This used to be very true of Spanish missionaries who intensively studied and documented local dances in an try to establish and remove the “idolatrous” behaviors of the Aztec, the most important indigenous empire in Mesoamerica on the time of its ecu discovery.

Dancing the recent World lines the transformation of the Aztec empire right into a Spanish colony via written and visible representations of dance in colonial discourse—the significant constellation of chronicles, histories, letters, and go back and forth books through Europeans in and in regards to the New global. Scolieri analyzes how the chroniclers used the Indian dancing physique to symbolize their very own reviews of ask yourself and terror within the New global, in addition to to justify, lament, and/or deny their position in its political, religious, and actual conquest. He additionally finds that Spaniards and Aztecs shared an realizing that dance performed a tremendous position within the formation, upkeep, and illustration of imperial strength, and describes how Spaniards pressured Indians to accomplish dances that dramatized their very own conquest, thereby reworking them into colonial matters. Scolieri’s pathfinding research of the sizeable colonial “dance archive” conclusively demonstrates that dance performed a very important position in a single of the defining moments in smooth history—the eu colonization of the Americas.

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Additional resources for Dancing the New World: Aztecs, Spaniards, and the Choreography of Conquest

Sample text

Priests were also the custodians of ritual, responsible for procuring offerings, protecting victims, handling masks and regalia, and coordinating music, dance, and chanting, among the other countless details that went into the extravagant festivals. Some of the most sacred rites, such as manipulation of fire and incense, purification ceremonies, wielding the sacrificial knife, and dismembering victim corpses, were restricted to special classes of priests. The power and wealth of the Aztec empire were based on the strength of its warriors, and for the Aztec, military service was obligatory.

For example, a folio from the Codex Borgia depicts twelve dancing spirits of women who died during childbirth (cihuateteo) (fig. 4). ” Footprints, too, are a type of bodily writing—an impression of the body’s movement in time and space. indb 20 counted by Martyr, footprints trace a presence in the material world while simultaneously concretizing an absence. This book is interested in retracing the literal and figurative footprints of movement in colonial discourse. These steps take us from the migratory paths of the Mexica into Aztlán and the accounts of fleeing and transformation that dance helped to make representable.

The “counting of the years” (xiuhpohualli) was a 365-day solar calendar that organized the annual cycle of the sun (such as equinoxes and solstices) and the agricultural seasons into eighteen “months” of twenty days (veintenas) plus five “leftover” days (nemontemi). The “bundle of years” (xiuhmolpilli) measured cycles of fifty-two years, a period of time for the Aztec that was the equivalent to our century. The Aztec calendars calculated astronomical and agricultural phenomena, and also reflected the beliefs and practices of their polytheistic religion.

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