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Puerto Vallarta • Riviera Nayarit 

Mexican Folkloric Dance in the Central Pacific State of Nayarit

Jose Luis Ovalle - Mexfoldanco
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May 28, 2013

The Central Pacific state of Nayarit is located a few minutes north of Puerto Vallarta and ascends onto the Western mountain range (Sierra Madre Occidental). The sierra is also the home of the Huichol indigenous group, famous for their yarn painting, the "eyes of god," and spectacular costuming.

The name "Nayarit" comes form the pre-columbian Cora (A Family of the Huichol indians) leader "Nayar" who became beatified and worshipped after his death. Nayarit mainly produces sugar cane, cotton, coffee and tobacco, and shares an impressive coastline with Jalisco and Sinaloa. It is also an important mining center.

The state capital is Tepic, but the town of Compostela, (Inspired in Santiago de Compostela, Spain), was the first capital of nueva Galicia (Spanish colony comprising the states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa).

Sones y Jarabes Nayaritas

There are several styles of sones Nayaritas, all are mestizo representations of very old music recreated relatively recently by the late Jaime Buentello in the early 70's. Because it is a modern creation, many expected theatrical elements can be found in costuming and dancing.

The exhausting skirt movement which most probably never existed, but that surely generates a powerful presence can be an example. The juggling of machetes, the balancing of bottles and water filled glasses during the dance have made Nayarit folklore everyone's favorite.

Of course some elements are as real as the music. Such as the men's skill with machetes, comparable to the lasso becoming a masterful art in the hands of a cowboy with some spare time. The partner choreography in most sones and the competitive nature of the jarabes, are also as real as the ancient "mariachero" style ensemble that plays sones with names of local animals such as the ox, the squirrel, the armadillo, the rooster, etc.


The men, as in most Mexican folklore, use bleached or unbleached muslin pants and shirt, tied at the waist with a red sash. To add color to the otherwise plain attire, choreographers have added a colorful satin, taffeta or silk (never used by the poor; let alone the men) unbuttoned jacket tied at the waist. They use a wide brim palm hat similar to Jalisco's for sones, but take it off to juggle machetes, replacing it with a folded bandanna on the brow. They wear huaraches or boots.

Women wear typical turn of the XX century "ranchera" fashions (high collars, puffy sleeves, ruffles and lace) except that the blouse is manufactured with satin or taffeta. Then there are the authentic Huichol masterpieces embroidered in colorful cris-crossed yarn.

  Learn more about Peyote People

  Learn more about The Huichol Center for Cultural Survival

  Check out Galeria Tanana

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