Hispanic Heritage Month: Chicago’s Little Village Xochitl-Quetzal Aztec Dance continues a tradition of over 500 years

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CHICAGO (WLS) – Their sights and sounds date back over 5 centuries to what was once known as Tenochtitlan in ancient Mexico.

These are the same rituals and traditions that the Chicago group Xochitl-Quetzal Aztec Dance carries on throughout the city and suburbs.

“These dances are not choreographed, they are passed down from generation to generation. So every dance tells a story, every song will literally tell you a little bit more about who we are and where we come from,” said Henry Cervantes, founder and director of Xochitl-Quetzal Aztec Dance.

The dances come from the Aztecs who flourished in Mexico. until the fall of their empire, exactly 500 years ago this year.

They used sahumadoras or censers for their ceremonies, as well as what is known as the concha, which mixed their native roots with the European introduction of the guitar and gave them the name of their dance style.

“The reason we are known as concheros is because we dance with guitars made from armadillo shells – so that’s where the name concheros comes from – armadillo con shell,” he said. said Cervantes.

“In the Aztec Nahuatl language, xochitl means flower, quetzal means beautiful, so our group literally means beautiful flower,” Cervantes said. “Our culture is entirely based on expressing appreciation for nature. All of our badges, you’ll see flowers on our traditional badges because that’s our symbol,” Cervantes said.

The group is made up of over two dozen multigenerational dancers, mostly from Little Village and Back of the Yards.

READ ALSO: Latinx, Latino, Hispanic: Defining a community in multiple terms with different meanings

“It’s a lot of history, and I love the way we dance because it has a lot of meaning, music, dance, instruments and it’s something exciting for me,” a Oak Lawn dancer Hilda Garcia said.

Diana Becerra, 19, grew up in Little Village. She has practiced Mexican folk dances before, but says she discovered a new love and pride in her Aztec history and culture when she joined the group.

“The indigenous roots are very powerful, very strong, so for us to portray that even in this modern society – for us to bring a little piece of that from Mexico, it just means a lot of showing marches, where we play from. just drums, dancing and everything, ”Becerra said.

“We have a lot of young people in our dance group and it is very important, it is precious for us because this is where we start. We have to transmit the songs and dance to the young ones so that they have this. sense of self-incarnation that I exist, I have a story, I am a descendant of this wonderful heritage and this must be celebrated, “said Cervantes.

Watch one of the following performances of the Aztec Xochitl-Quetzal dance:

3 p.m. on October 9
South Holland Library

16250 Wausau Avenue, South Holland.

6 p.m. Saturday October 9
Sycamore Public Library
103 E. State, Sycamore

7 p.m. Monday 11 October
Glenview Public Library
1930 Genview Road, Gleview

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