Music and dance also bind communities to the past when people have deep ancestral claims, as they often do, to their dances. Even where songs and dances are borrowed from neighboring groups, as they sometimes are, they play a central role in people’s lives. And so too do ritual dances that combine Christian and indigenous knowledge. Indigenous ceremonial dances are dynamic events that allow Native peoples to maintain old ways and introduce new ones while expressing and celebrating their strongly felt tribal, village, clan, society and individual identities.
Combining operatic vocalization with traditional Cahuilla singing was definitely an innovative approach to telling the story of Tahquitz. When asked about the genesis of this idea, deSoto stated, “I am a big believer in the fact that culture is always hybridizing and building on existing forms, combining others. The idea that a western form of singing could harmonize with an ancient indigenous song is very interesting to me. We often think of these cultures being at odds, but in fact there are many ways in which these cultures have created new ones.”
Bright regalia and energetic dancing make the quechua Danza de Tizeras (Scissor Dance) of the Peruvian highlands a perennial favorite. The baggy trousers and fitted jackets are richly decorated with metallic embroidery, gold and silver fringe, and colored sequins and beads.