The Mexican Folkloric Dance Company of Chicago

The Mexican Northern States

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The vast states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, and both Baja Californias (North and South), make up the frontier of Mexico with the US. A bit south of these states, however, the states of Durango, Sinaloa, and Norhtern San Luis Potosi are also parts of the geographical north of Mexico. This semi desertic region did not become the focus of the the initial Spanish expeditions due to its precarious climate with little or no rain. The interest came later due to the metalurgic richness of most of the region. Important cities were founded here:

• Monterrey in Nuevo León
• Saltillo and Torreón in Coahuila
• Chihuahua City and Parral in Chihuahua
• Hermosillo in Sonora
• Culiacán in Sinaloa
• Durango City in Durango
• Real de Catorce & the Minas del Potosi

All of these are based on a powerful mining industry that flourished during the Colonial period (1521-1810 AD) and somehow continues to sustain them.

The Border

The North holds another important title, it is the immediate border with U.S. Frontier towns are a commanding economic asset for their states, and represent the ports of entry into the country.
From East to West:

• Matamoros, Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo in Tamaulipas
• Piedras Negras and Ciudad Acuña in Coahuila
• Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua
• Agua Prieta and Nogales in Sonora
• Mexicali and Tijuana in Northern Baja California

Aside from its political implication, the border is also a powerful cultural melting pot as people from all over Mexico and Central America come to stay here temporarily for a chance to cross into the United States.

Border Music and Dance

One last and perhaps most important fact about "El Norte" is that the revolution that overthrew the Porfirian regime in 1910 was born here...In "Paso del Norte" (Ciudad Juarez Chihuahua today) on November 20. The revolution reshaped every social, economic and political aspect of Mexican life, and gave Mexicans the possibility of a hybrid local identity, not segregated into European or Indigenous anymore, just Mexican and unique.

The Czechoslovakian Polka, The Polish Mazurka and Redowa, The Scottish Schottische, English Square dancing, and the Austrian Waltzen were brought into Mexico as ballroom dancing by the silly Mexican aristocracy of the early to mid-1800's. By the time Don Porfirio Diaz took power (1870), there were already many local compositions inspired by these rhythms. The lower classes, still in servitude, mocked the rich and their snotty rhythms giving them a political-comical twist, creating thus the ubiquitous "Mexican polka" and the musical narrating "corridos".

As the flame of the revolution ran rampant in the North, the Polka and the corrido became a sort of musical newspapers, since most people were illiterate at the time. Most polkas and corridos created then took on famous female soldier names: Adelita, Marieta, Juana Gallo, Rielera, Revolcada, Jesusita, etc. The dancing took on local characteristics, and the dress fashions of the late 1800's, early 1900's American frontier settlers.

Before the revolution, the German settlers of Texas brought in their own musical instruments: the accordion, the sax, and bass guitar and the original taste of these rhythms, which were immediately absorbed and adopted by the locals creating the "conjunto" out of these elements. Border music is still en vogue today, dancing and the men's outfit have suffered little or no change. The polkas, redovas, mazurkas, schottische, the waltz, and the corrido are still big favorites in Northern Mexico and Southern U.S. one hundred years after their introduction into Mexico and boasting a proud history that tells about the joys and sorrows of norteños.

© Copyright José Luis Ovalle, 2007 - 2022. All Rights Reserved. Derechos reservados.

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