The Mexican Folkloric Dance Company of Chicago


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The Mexican Garden of Eden

Tabasco is a southeastern state that not only boasts a breathtaking tropical vegetation, but around 1500 B.C. was the home of the Olmeca civilization (Nahuatl: From where the rubber grows) the mother culture of Meso-America. Vestiges of this civilization can be found resting in the soft alluvial floor of the state. Tabasco's name origin is till under discussion among linguists and historians, but here are some possibilities:

• Tlapalco - Nahuatl: Humid place
• Tlapachtli - Nahuatl for Spanish moss
• Tlahuashco - Nahuatl for Place with an owner
• Tabs-coob - Mayan name of the local indigenous leader found by the Spaniards upon their arrival

Tabasco can be broadly described as a tropical jungle area facing the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico with vast oil deposits and the home of the Olmecas, the mother culture of Mesoamerica. Its music is played on marimbas and dancing is fast-paced and saturated with intricate zapateado.

The men wear the typical bleached muslin pants and shirts and a leather belt. Their partners wear a brightly colored ruffle skirt (closer to a wrap-around) which longer in the back, emulating the Spanish train, a rebozo and they adorn the left side of their heads with hibiscus flowers. The more traditional style of music in Tabasco is played with a drum and a a reed flute.

Sones Tabasqueños and Danzas Chontales

The indigenous background of Tabasco's folk music and dance come from the Mayan family, a diversification called "Chontal". The style is played on reed flutes and drums of several sizes by ensembles called "Tamborileros". The extremely contagious style is indigenous in nature, but has a noticeable Afro-Caribbean rhythm that was brought in with African slaves during the colony.

The "Son Tabasqueño" or mestizo dance style retains the same flavor, but is played on marimbas, and shares much of its repertoire with neighboring Chiapas.


Once again, the men wear either white pants and a tucked in white shirt with a belt, a bandanna around the neck, and a local hat. Or the same attire but made of unbleached muslin. They wear huaraches or Spanish bots. Women wear a printed, full circle, ruffled skirt, longer in the back (above left). A white blouse trimmed at the collar with a colorful embroidered band. They wear a rebozo, hibiscus flowers on the headpiece, and Spanish shoes. The more indigenous costume is basically the same, except that the skirt is a wrap-around and sandals are used instead of shoes.

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

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