Volador Dance, a unique and athletic ritual dance of pre-Columbian origin utilizing a high pole. Once practiced by many peoples throughout ancient Mexico and Central America, the dance today is primarily observed by the Totonacs, and occasionally by neighboring groups, in the Mexican states of Veracruz and Puebla. Its precise origins and significance are obscure, but it apparently reached its apogee with other solar rituals just before the Spanish Conquest. The dance retains many of its ancient characteristics, including steps, action sequence, orientation to the four cardinal points, and flute and drum accompaniment.
There are four, and at times six, dancers, called voladores (fliers), plus the musician. Having climbed the pole, as high as 137 feet, the dancers fall off a rotating platform with ropes tied to their waists. As the cords unwrap from the staff, they swirl around it for several minutes before reaching the ground. Except for tourist purposes, the dance is normally performed on local feast days.
See alsoTotonacs .
Descriptions of the dance as traditionally practiced by the highland Totonacs can be found in Alain Ichon, La religion des Totonaques de la Sierra (1969); and for the lowland Totonacs in Salomón Pérez Diego D'poza, Danza de los voladores (1968). The nature of the dance today is examined in S. Jeffrey K. Wilkerson, "The Flute Calls, Totonac Voladores: Ritual Fliers of Mexico," The World and I 6, no. 6 (June 1991): 638-651.
S. Jeffrey K. Wilkerson