The Totonac people live in the eastern coastal regions of Mexico. Their history goes back to Pre-Columbian times.
The Totonac Sun Ceremony or Dance of the Voladores (Flying Dance) is unique and thrilling to watch. It is part of a long ceremony performed in honor of the sun. The ceremony begins with the harvesting of a tall, straight tree, which is taken to the dance site without ever allowing it to touch the ground. There are dances, music, and prayers when the pole is installed at the site.
There is a special song and dance as the dancers walk to the pole and another as they dance around the pole, asking permission from the pole, the Creator, and their ancestors to perform the Dance of the Voladores.
The most spectacular part of the ceremony is when five men climb the pole. While one stays on top of the pole dancing and playing a flute, the other four, with ropes tied around their feet, fling themselves backward to whirl around the pole 13 times as they descend to earth.
The dance is extremely dangerous. The men have to be precisely balanced to rotate around the pole without injury, and the man who stands on top must have excellent balance. Training to be a flying dancer starts at between 7 and 12 years old. The dance required not only physical fitness but also spiritual purity, as it is believed that if any dancer brings bad thoughts with him, the ceremony will be contaminated.
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