Baile Folklorico

Western Mexico

[15]Jarabe Tapatío
[16]Danza del Toro de Petate
[17]La Danza de los Viejitos
[18]Danzas de Guerrero Chivos
[19]La Danza de Chinelos
[20]Danza de Pinotepa de Don Luis


The Jarabe is considered Mexico's “national dance” and is the best known outside the country, often called the “Mexican Hat Dance” in English. The dance was performed for the first time formally in 1860 at the Coliseo Theater in Mexico City. During the 1860s it was fashionable in high society.The dance symbolizes the courtship of a woman by a man, who at first is refused but accepted in the end. The two protagonists are usually a man in a charro suit and a woman in a “China Poblana” outfit. It was popularized internationally in the 20th century by Russian dancer Anna Pavlova who visited Mexico in 1919. She made the dance part of her permanent repertoire. The dance's current form emerged nationally during the Mexican Revolution although various “jarabe” dances existed before this time, such as the Jarabe Jalisco, the Jarabe Atole and Jarabe Moreliana. The charros outfit is from Mexico's cowboy tradition and the China Poblana outfit is based on the dress of an Asian woman who became famous in the city of Puebla in the colonial period. Today, this dress, especially the skirt, is heavily decorated with patriotic themes. The Jarabe is danced to Mariachi music and is performed at Mexican national holidays such as Las Fiestas Patrias, Cinco de Mayo, and El Diez Seis de Septiembre.


Many notable dances are found in the state of Guerrero. The three most common dances of the coast of Oaxaca and Guerrero are the Devil Dance, the Turtle Dance and the Toro de Petate (Straw Bull Dance), all of which are tied to the area's Afro-Mexican communities. The first three contains characteristics which are found only in this region and nowhere else in Mexico and include violence and even sexual overtures. The main characters, devils, turtles and bulls represented by those in masks, are mythical creatures which dance in the streets alongside humans who either challenge or subdue them. Other important Afro-Mexican dances include the Tiger Dance and the Tejorones.

Los Chivos is another dance performed in Guerrero. It is dancers perform movements related to that of goats (chivos) accompanies by wood boxes used as drums and an instruments made from a donkey's jaw, which is rubbed on the side with a wooden stick. The dancers wear red wooden masks with deer antlers covered in streamers and paper flowers, along with skirts that reach the knees. Machomula refers to a wooden horse's head which is central to the dance performed in the Costa Chica of Guerrero. The night before a festival, this head is carried on beams all night while the men sing and sometimes perform parodies. On the day of the festival, they form a procession with the guardian of the horse's head in front on a wooden horse. Pescados (Fish) is performed mostly in Guerrero by participants acting as fishermen with nets and with those that play the part of fish who are identified by small wooden fish that hang from their shoulders. There is one other character which is a lizard, who is covered with a wooden frame that opens and closes its mouth. It also carries some barbed wire which it used to try to hit the fishermen. It is similar to the Tortuga (turtle) dance. Tecuanes comes from Nahuatl which means jaguars or tigers. This dance is the only which features this animal. In this dance, the animal chases children and is in turned pursued by men, who wear masks, boots or chaps and very large sombreros. They carry whips which they use to hit the tiger who wears padding. The dance is very similar to Tlacololeros in its movements. Both are performed in Guerrero.

Other important dances include La Judea, danced by the Coras during Holy Week in Nayarit, Sonajeros, danced in the south of Jalisco, and the Dance of the Cúrpites.


Moros y cristianos (Moors and Christians) is not indigenous in origin. It was introduced by monks in the 16th century and widely practiced in central Mexico, especially Michoacán. The dancers form two groups to represents the two religious, each wearing masks and capes with Moors marked by a crescent moon and the Christians with a cross. The other elements of the dress vary widely with some versions having the Christians dressed as charros. This dance is part of a larger ceremony that can last up to two days and consist in mock battles and negotiations as well as dance. The voices of the participants generally sing and speak with a high-pitch or falsetto voice. Santiagos is named after the patron saint of Spain, Saint James. It is a dance of Spanish origin similar to Moros y cristianos except that the Saint is the main character. Sometimes the character rides on a real horse or the costume can contain a frame of a horse.

La Conquista, sometimes called Los Marqueses tells the story of the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. There are dancers who represent the main protagonists including Hernán Cortés, La Malinche and Moctezuma. Various versions with include other characters. Those who represent the Spanish soldiers carry arquebuses and usually wear modern clothing. Those who represent the indigenous wear feathers and carry bows and arrows frequently with those dressed as Eagle and Jaguar warriors of rank. All the dancers wear masks. The dance represents the battles between the two groups ending either with the killing of Moctezuma or with the baptism of the indigenous. This is a widely performed dance especially in Michoacán and Jalisco.

The Danza de los Viejitos (Dance of the Little Old Men) is performed in Michoacán, especially in the Lake Pátzcuaro area. The dance as known today was created by Gervasio López in the mid 20th century, who had a passion for traditional folk music and dance of this region. While the dance is “new” it is based on ancient rhythms and steps and accompanied by traditional instruments. The dancers basically imitate old men, dressed in traditional indigenous clothing and carrying canes. The dancers wear wood-soled shoes to accentuate the noise made while stomping. Although a regional dance, it has been performed abroad in the United States and Europe. Other dances from the state of Michoacán include Las Iguiris, Mariposas, Danza de los Tumbis, Paloteros and Pescado Blanco.

Other important dances include La Judea, danced by the Coras during Holy Week in Nayarit, Sonajeros, danced in the south of Jalisco, and the Dance of the Cúrpites.

Another place that has very unique and different dresses for dancing is Michoacán, Mexico. Their dresses are very different from Jalisco. The dresses in Michoacán are very simple but elegant. They have a long skirt with very little detail of ribbons. The upper part of the dress is made up of a simple blouse that has embroider detail around the neck, they also use a belt and an embroidered apron. In Michoacán they have many dresses depending on the event, they have dresses that are for everyday wear and dresses for special ceremonies or occasions. There are many parts that go along with the dress from the hair to all the accessories that they wear. The everyday dress for women in Michoacán is made up of five items of clothing. These items consist of an underskirt, skirt, an apron, shawl, and lastly a blouse which is also known as a guanengo. All of these item are made of different fabrics and color which makes each item stand out. Like the dresses from Jalisco, the dresses in Michoacán also have bright colors with little use of black. For special day like Palm Sunday for example, they add more accessories. These accessories consist of sashes, beaded necklaces, hats woven of palm leaves, masks, fresh fruit, mirrors and tinsel. They also different accessories for special ceremonies that are done in their communities which makes them stand out due to the variety in their dresses.