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Dancing the New World

Aztecs, Spaniards, and the Choreography of Conquest

By Paul A. Scolieri

Publication Year: 2013

Analyzing the extensive accounts of Aztec dance practices in colonial-era European chronicles, histories, letters, and travel books, this volume reveals the surprising and crucial role that dance played in the European conquest and colonization of the Americas.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

List of Appendices

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pp. vii-viii

List of Maps and Images

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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xiv

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pp. 1-23

In their chronicles of the New World, explorers, conquistadors, missionaries, colonial administrators, royal historians, scientists, and travelers all surprisingly yet invariably wrote about “Indian” dances. Whether drawn to the topic by accident or...

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1. On the Areíto: Discovering Dance in the New World

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pp. 24-43

On December 26, 1492, during his first voyage to the “New World,” Christopher Columbus encountered a cacique (Indian “chief ”) named Guacanagari, whom he invited, along with other Indians, aboard his ship the Niña. Th e Indians allegedly brought pieces o...

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2. Unfaithful Imitation: Friar Toribio de Benavente “Motolinía” and the “Counterfeit” Histories of Dance

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pp. 44-55

On January 25, 1524, Friar Toribio de Benavente (ca. 1490– 1569) joined a delegation of eleven other Franciscan missionaries and left Spain for the New World. They arrived near Veracruz, Mexico, on May 13, and shortly thereafter traced the steps of the...

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3. The Sacrifices of Representation: Dance in the Writings of Friar Bernardino de Sahaguún

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pp. 56-89

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of Franciscan missionary Bernardino de Sahagún (1499– 1590) to our understanding of the Aztec past. In the mid-sixteenth century, Sahagún embarked upon a systematic study of the Aztec world...

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4. Dances of Death: The Massacre at the Festival of Toxcatl

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pp. 90-126

Huitzilopochtli (“Hummingbird from the South”) was the Mexica god of the sun and war. Conceived immaculately by his mother, Coatlicue (“The One with the Skirt of Serpents”), Huitzilopochtli was deified over the course of several hundred years...

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5. The Mystery of Movement: Dancing in Colonial New Spain

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pp. 127-149

In 1522, upon hearing of the final conquest of the Aztec, Charles V appointed Hernán Cortés governor and captain general of New Spain. Within the next few years, Cortés continued his military campaigns until the Spanish colony was almost double the size...

Color Section

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pp. A-H

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pp. 150-152

Fernando de Alvarado Tezozómoc was born into an Aztec royal family fifteen years after the conquest of Mexico. His father was a descendant of the Mexica ruler Axayacatl; his mother was one of Montezuma’s daughters. As the descendant of two ruling...

Appendices A– J

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pp. 153-172


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pp. 173-186


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pp. 187-196


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pp. 197-228

E-ISBN-13: 9780292744936
E-ISBN-10: 0292744935
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292744929
Print-ISBN-10: 0292744927

Page Count: 227
Illustrations: 40 b&w and color illus.
Publication Year: 2013