We Dance for the Virgen: Authenticity of Tradition in a San Antonio Matachines Troupe (Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series #19) (Hardcover)

We Dance for the Virgen: Authenticity of Tradition in a San Antonio Matachines Troupe (Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series #19) By Robert R. Botello Cover Image
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The danza de matachines is a tradition with roots in the Spanish colonization of Mexico that summons history for Mexican, Chicano, and indigenous communities. The elaborate ritual, regalia, and practices associated with the tradition tell of the repeated appearances of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Aztec Indian Juan Diego as she provided instructions for the building of a church. Matachines have been dancing in Mexico and portions of the southwestern United States for as long as 300 years, and various troupes in San Antonio date their beginnings to the late 1800s, as immigrants from Mexico brought the tradition to the southern reaches of Texas.

In We Dance for the Virgen, Robert R. Botello, who participated in a family-based troupe from 2006 to 2019, reviews the history of the tradition while contrasting the troupe’s internal changes in traditions with those originating from the larger social and political context of San Antonio. In Botello’s words, this book “is as much about the dance and its history as it is about my transformation as a matachines dancer.” Botello ultimately examines issues of cultural appropriation arising from the association of the troupe with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Antonio, revealing the resilience in a tradition that has remained true to its origins across many generations of dancers.

About the Author

ROBERT R. BOTELLO is an independent scholar and bilingual education teacher living in San Antonio. He previously served as visiting professor of social work at Our Lady of the Lake University. This is his first book. 

Praise For…

“Roberto Botello draws on his personal experience in San Antonio, Texas, and rigorous scholarly research, to tell an extraordinary story of resiliency and tradition in light of past and ongoing settler colonialism. We Dance for the Virgin offers a refreshing perspective of hope and transformation as America searches its soul.”—Harald Bauder is a Professor at X-University (formerly known as Ryerson University) and author of Work on the West Side
— Harald Bauder

“Robert Botello’s groundbreaking book We Dance for the Virgen is a fascinating examination of his personal experience of becoming a member of a matachin troupe in San Antonio, Texas. He explores his varied roles as an interpreter, documentarian, and full-time participant as a matachin over a period of 13 years. The book is written with clarity and insight and is well-organized. It explores questions of authenticity, cultural heritage, continuity, and change in a fascinating part of the world stretching from Mexico and Texas to the Pueblo region of northern New Mexico. Drawing extensively on historical sources and interviews, Botello’s revealing book is well-illustrated with photographs and testimony.  The significance of cultural authenticity of the dance is illustrated by his careful discussion of an attempt to appropriate the La Danza Guadulupana de Pablo Olivaros Sr. and what happened to the dance troupe as a result.”—Robert K. Hitchcock, University of New Mexico
— Robert Hitchcock

Product Details
ISBN: 9781648430473
ISBN-10: 1648430473
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Publication Date: July 27th, 2022
Pages: 256
Language: English
Series: Clayton Wheat Williams Texas Life Series