The Dance of the Flier or Voladores
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Voladores ritual is flight for survival for Mexico's Totonacas

When Spanish conquistadors landed on Mexico's east coast in 1519, the Totonacas were the first people they encountered. Catholicism was imposed, and the Totonacas joined a coalition of indigenous warriors challenging Aztec rule.

Today there are around 250,000 Totonaca speakers in Mexico, and the community strives to preserve its language and cultural heritage.

A powerful symbol of Totonaca folk culture is the Dance of the Flier - La Danza del Volador in Spanish. The ceremony involves four men hanging upside-down on ropes from high poles, spinning down to the sounds of a flute and drum played by the caporal, a fifth man who performs on a small platform at the top. They represent earth, wind, fire and water, flying around the sun in a prayer for happiness and fertility.

Frederick Bernas and Amado Trevino visited Papantla de Olarte in the Mexican state of Veracruz to see the flying dancers in action.

  • 11 Oct 2013
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