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Dance with the devil: the colourful Mexican art form that summons demons

Following the conquest of Mesoamerica, the Spanish attempted to eradicate indigenous dance as part of their imposition of Catholicism. When it proved impossible to extinguish, evangelisers instead altered the dances to include Christian symbolism and themes. Remnants of these syncretic dance forms still exist throughout Mexico in places such as Felipe Horta’s workshop in Tócuaro, a small village in the state of Michoacán. For more than 30 years, Horta has been crafting colourful, menacing devil masks and costumes for nativity plays. Horta’s painted wood masks and hand-sewn sequin suits are designed to evoke the eternal fight between good and evil by transforming their wearers into dragon-like ‘demons and devils’. Through his art, Horta seeks to assure that the nativity plays endure as a piece of the region’s living traditions, not merely historic folklore. This film is part of the Mexican director Mariano Rentería Garnica’s short documentary series on artisans in the western state of Michoacán.

Director: Mariano Rentería Garnica

Producer: Jorge Díez Maza

9 April 2019

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