Isla Mujeres at sunset

After a night’s stay on Isla Mujeres, a small island across from Cancun, my dance and world journey began. In the mid-afternoon, my husband and I boarded a very frigid ADO bus for a four hour ride to the city of Merida. Our plan was to visit the famous Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and to stay in Merida, since it was recommended for its beauty.

It was Sunday when we arrived in Merida and just in time for dinner. I couldn’t wait to get off the bus, find a hotel, and sleep off my raging migraine. The only thing that stopped me from going to bed was my stomach yearning for food. We quickly dropped off our backpacks and set out to find something to eat.

A few blocks away  we discovered a little store where I picked up a snickers and noticed a few people who were heading excitedly down the street. The night had seemed quiet. However, I could vaguely hear something that sounded like music and a man’s voice rattling some very enthusiastic Spanish. I really didn’t feel like exploring, but something in me was curious to find out what was happening.

Me at Chichen Itza

Following the sound and the people, we quickly discovered a park filled with vendors selling everything from customized graffiti shirts and knickknacks to food. It seems we stumbled upon an outdoor market. Once again, I heard the music and the man over the speaker and turned to see a large group of people gathered in front of a beautiful pink, yellow, and white building, with arches that leapt from one end to the other. I pushed my way to an opening in the crowd to discover a dance performance!

The performers were a local Ballet Folkloric dance company that performs every month at the market, and we just happened catch them. Needless to say, I was thrilled! With my iphone in hand, I lifted my arm as high as possible and between people’s heads to capture the performance.

The company of about 30 men and women were dressed immaculately in the most beautifully detailed costumes. Many traditional dances called Jarana, were performed with precision and obvious love for the dance and performance. The upbeat and joyous music had the audience clapping to the beat  as the dancers stomped, jumped, and turned around the space.

Mérida, Mexico

Following the company’s performance, what had once been the performance space quickly flooded with couples. The entire crowd began to dance to the band’s music. It was amazing to feel the explosive energy of so many people who just had to dance following the performance. As a dancer, I feel this way every time I see a performance, but never have I left a show and then experienced a crowd keeping the dance going. Perhaps it was the venue, the culture, or maybe a fluke, but I found it very magical.

Hope you enjoy my little video from the performance!

– The Offbeat Ballerina