La Guelaguetza

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This past weekend we attended a performance of La Guelaguetza at the Casa de la Cultura Oaxaquena in central Oaxaca City.  La Guelaguetza is a festival of folk music and dance unique to Oaxaca.  The cultural center presentation was an imitation of the much larger annual festival that takes place each July during which elaborately costumed dancers representing the seven regions of Oaxaca perform a series of traditional dances, including the colorful pineapple dance by the women of the Papaloapan region and the mens’ Zapotec Danza de las Plumas, or feather dance.

The festival takes place each year in the large, open-air Auditorio Guelaguetza located atop Cerro de Fortin and overlooking the entire city.  The smaller version of the performance that we attended was not held in the Auditorio, although we did end up there later on that evening to attend a concert featuring several of the best Mariachi bands from across Mexico.  Their performances were extraordinary and ended in a huge fireworks display directly overhead.  The mild temperatures, clear skies, beautiful views of the city below and magnificent music and dance resulted in nothing less than a perfect Oaxacan evening.

No visit to Oaxaca is complete without taking in the sights and sounds of a live Guelaguetza performance.  Luckily, finding a performance to attend is quite easy.  For those unable to visit Oaxaca during the month of July for the annual festival there’s a good chance of catching an imitation show, or several, as we have over the past couple of weeks.  A few restaurants in the city center stage their own Guelaguetza performances nightly charging between $8 and $30 for admission, the latter including dinner.  From time to time the cultural center stages performances that are free to attend and open to the public.  There’s also a good chance of stumbling upon a performance in the form of  parade and fireworks celebration as it winds its way through the city streets.  We’ve been fortunate enough to catch a few of these, including one on the evening of our arrival in Oaxaca.

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