The type of dance displayed above is a traditional dance done by the Pataxó’Indians
to welcome their guests. The welcome dance is very ritualized. To start the dance,
the chief's wife lights very aromatic incense brought to her by a young Indian boy.
After the incense is lit and she says a prayer, she signals for the rest of the
tribe to join her. The dance begins with the chief taking the lead as everyone follows
in sync behind him around the "alter" where the incense is burning. The entire tribe
men, women, young and old even children as young as two participate, following the
steps of their mothers. After the ceremony was completed, we were all free to join
in as the Pataxó’ members taught us the steps. We danced in a circle alongside the
Indians, and even when we messed up, their caring and easy-going nature was evident
as they laughed and helped us throughout the dance.
I found this ritual to be very entertaining and interesting. I also loved how family-oriented
the Indian tribe was. I remember one incident where a young child began to cry;
I got worried, thinking that he was disturbing the ritual and was going to be punished.
However, one of the older men simply picked him up and continued the dance. That
impressed me. In America, we have the mindset that children who disturb something
important should be punished. I admired the compassion and easy-going attitude the
Pataxó’ Indians exhibited.
The type of dance illustrated above dates back as far as the 19th Century. The dance
is very formal and was usually a dance of the slave and plantation owners. The dance
is similar to a waltz. Originally, the dance, called the maxixe (pronounced mah
shee shee), was a very sensual African dance that had a lot of hip movement. The
Catholic Church considered the dance inappropriate and it was changed to be more
formal and less sensual. It is very different from the Indian ritual as it is a
more sedate and poised routine. You can watch the posture of the elite couple as
they waltz effortlessly around the room. Their backs remain straight and their heads
are always held high as they focus only on each other and ignore all distractions.
This is different from the Indian ceremony, as the Indian dance is more laid- back
and family-oriented. I thought the dance was very beautiful and a breath of fresh
air. It was nothing like the type of dancing typically done in the States. It was
also interesting to note the ritualistic dances between that culture, the Indian
culture and our own culture. I should note that during the dance the actors who
played the Baron and Baroness of Mabucamba stayed in character of that time period.
However, after they finished the dance they livened up and invited us to join in
and learn the dance.
Video of the Indian Reservation
Video of the Coffee Farm