Folk Art PA

Master: Roberto Franco Totokani

Apprentice: Brujo de la Mancha
Art Form: Aztec/Maxika Dance and Clothing

Through this Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Apprenticeship in Folk and Traditional Arts, Brujo de la Mancha learned from master artist, Roberto Franco Totokani, the art of traditional Aztec dance and regalia sewing. During this apprenticeship, Brujo de la Mancha learned the male and female parts of Aztec dance as well as the main spiritual elements of the dance. He also learned how to make the traditional regalia or costumes for both men and woman. The costumes are very elaborate, using different Aztec geoglyphs that correspond to the dancer's birth date—a fancy piece of clothing that acts like a birth certificate.

Brujo de la Mancha's mission as an artist is to awaken the spirituality of the human mind through an approach that uses the arts to emphasize a connection between nature and today's modern society. He co-founded the first Aztec Dane Troupe in Philadelphia—Ollin Yoliztli Calmecac (OYC)—with a mission to investigate, understand, and raise awareness of the MEXICYOTL culture, which flourished in Mexico prior to the arrival of the Spanish in 1492.

Brujo de la Mancha hopes to use his knowledge of dance to raise awareness about indigenous groups and combat prejudices, "I want people to know about native Mexican indigenous arts and culture, as well as the preservation of sacred and artistic traditions and contributions. In Mexico, the United States, and Europe, there is severe discrimination against people who look like they come from the native indigenous populations." During the apprenticeship, Brujo de la Mancha learned a lot about crafting regalia: "I was surprised how much time is needed to create a real regalia and how much information is needed if you want to have a regalia that is based on your given name or a name that represents you."

Roberto Franco Totokani comes from a long line of traditional dancers in Mexico City where he was the founder and co-founder of many traditional groups. He was invited into one of the most famous traditional Aztec groups, Tlatoani Cuahetemotzin, located in Mexico City. Roberto Franco Totokani was given the title "Capitan of Dance" and put in charge of teaching dances to the group and organizing dancers for major Aztec ceremonies throughout Mexico. He even performed for the United Nations during a conference on human rights in Mexico City. For Totokani, these dances are a spiritual experience: "The spirituality of this dance, music, it has a big connection not just to Mexicans, but to all humans because