El Es Dios!

A Historical Interpretation of Danza Azteca as a Revitalization Movement


  • Ruben A. Arellano Dallas College - Mountain View Campus




dance, danza azteca, indigeneity, concheros, chichimeca, mexica, mexika, aztec, Azteka, Mexikayotl, Chicana/o history


This article outlines a brief historical sketch of the Danza Azteca-Chichimeca, or danza for short, which is becoming ubiquitous in areas of the United States with a significant Mexican American population. It looks at its origins during the early colonial period of Mexico, especially its mythological beginnings, to help elucidate the deep foundation of the dance tradition. This sketch also addresses the evolution of danza after it spread from its place of origin in the Bajío into major urban areas like Mexico City, where, once there, it changed due to ideological and political trends that circulated in the post-revolution period. The article also looks at danza’s pseudo-militaristic undertones to suggest that it might have contributed to the growing discontent among peasants and indigenous people, leading to Mexican independence. Some scholars have suggested that it, as a revitalizationist tradition, belongs in the “crisis cult” category. This analysis became evident when danza encountered neo-Aztec philosophies that promoted nationalistic and restorationist ideologies. In sum, the article touches on the popularity of danza in the United States despite the current climate of xenophobia and anti-migration, and nods at its growing international and global appeal.

Author Biography

Ruben A. Arellano, Dallas College - Mountain View Campus

Ruben A. Arellano is a native of Dallas, Texas, where he currently resides with his family. He is a long-time Chicano/indigenous activist, Aztec dancer, artist, and scholar with a PhD in history from Southern Methodist University. He specializes in Chicana/Chicano indigeneity and actively works toward promoting indigenous identity within the ethnic Mexican community. He is a co-producer of a podcast that covers topics dealing with indigeneity, the US-Mexico borderlands, and Mexican American issues in general. He currently teaches history at Mountain View College in Dallas.




How to Cite

Arellano, Ruben A. 2021. “El Es Dios! A Historical Interpretation of Danza Azteca As a Revitalization Movement”. Journal of Festive Studies 3 (1):121-47. https://doi.org/10.33823/jfs.2021.3.1.61.