Oct 09 2013
Led by Associate Director Helena Simonett, CLAS collaborated with the Tennessee Arts Commission to invite a group of indigenous Yoreme dancers from Sinaloa, Mexico, for two public performances in Nashville in June 2013. The Yeu-Matchuc group performed ancient songs and dances on Vanderbilt University’s Library Lawn. The highlight of the performance was the ancient deer dance, through which the dancers transform into deer to reassert their ties to Earth. The opportunity to witness ceremonial music from Mexico is rare, not only because many indigenous groups keep their spiritual life and expressions under wraps, but also because much of it has been mixed over the years with Mestizo elements. Simonett has collaborated with Bernardo Esquer López, the artistic leader of Yeu Matchuc, in the publication of a bilingual (Yoreme-Spanish) children’s book Ca’anáriam, Hombre Que No Hizo Fuego on Yoreme culture.
The campus performance was a sacred ceremony held on World Environment Day. Special guest Albert Bender of the Native American Indian Association of Tennessee welcomed the Yoreme on behalf of the Cherokee nation. The event was free and open to the public and attended by over 90 members of the community. In addition to CLAS, other event co-sponsors were the Tennessee Arts Council, Curb Center, Blair School of Music, Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, Department of Anthropology, and Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, Instituto Sinaloense de Cultura, and the Mexican Studies Group.
In addition to the performance at Vanderbilt, Yeu-Matchuc performed at Casa Azafrán Community Center in Nashville. One hour prior to the performance at Casa Azafrán, there was an introduction to Yoreme culture and cosmology by Simonett and López and a discussion of their children’s book project.