MEXICO CITY, MEXICO – It’s noon on a Sunday at Parque Revolución, located in the northern part of Mexico City, the capital. Guitarists practice harmonizing while dancers add percussion by stomping their wooden heels on square wooden platforms.
But it’s not just any music and dance. Rather it’s the music and dance of the “jarochos,” the people of Veracuz, a state in eastern Mexico.
The musicians and dancers are participants in a free workshop that has become a staple in the park. Miroslava Cruz Terán and her husband, Luis Miguel Cruz Lara, launched this cultural initiative eight years ago to spread the traditions of the jarochos to Mexico City. Although Cruz Terán and Cruz Lara aren’t jarochos, both their parents are, so they are familiar with their traditions.
“It’s fortunate that my parents, although belatedly, succeeded in introducing me to the jarocho music and that it touched my heart and got into my veins,” says Cruz Terán, who learned how to dance during her 20s.
Now, the couple is intent on sharing these traditions with others. Cruz Terán teaches the dance classes, and Cruz Lara organizes and promotes the workshops.
At first, they collaborated with other groups. But six years ago, they started their own project called “Que siga el fandango,” an allusion to the name of jarocho festivities.
During the process, the workshops have themselves become a tradition, Cruz Terán says. She attributes this to their constant presence every Sunday in Parque Revolución for years. For personal reasons, they recently scaled back the classes to every two weeks.
The park’s open space has attracted followers little by little. Although the number of attendees has varied each week from 15 to 40 participants, many have become familiar faces.
Arturo Gutiérrez Funes, 56, has been attending the “jarana” classes for four years. It became such a part of his week that he laments the change several months ago to semimonthly workshops.
“You’re establishing a routine, coming here every Sunday,” he says.
The jarana that he plays is one of the two musical instruments taught during the music workshop. The other is the “requinto.” Both are small guitars that together create the jarocho “son,” a genre of music that blends indigenous, Spanish and African rhythms.
Cruz Terán teaches the different steps that accompany the music. The “zapateado” is the stomping part of the dance. For the “mudanza,” dancers using gliding steps during the lyrical portions of the songs.
Two teachers alternate teaching the jarana and requinto classes. One teacher is Ignacio González, 37, who first started coming to the dance classes as a participant for six or seven years in Cruz Terán and her husband’s workshops.
“I was making friends with them, and the opportunity arose in which they invited me to participate,” González says.
The classes are free, though the teachers always put out a basket or a sombrero for donations.
But neither Cruz Terán nor González leads the classes for the money. González says he even