Snak'obal Jnak'obal

Indigenes on the margin of society

The youths of the dancing collective “Snak’obal Jnak’obal” are between 12 and 22 years old and live in the north of the colonial city San Christóbal de las Casas which is situated in Chiapas, Mexico. They belong to the indigenous peoples of “Tzotzil” and “Tzeltal” which are deeply rooted in the ancient culture of the Maya. On one hand Mexico is proud of this heritage attracting many visitors from foreign countries.
But in reality, the descendants of the Maya are socially and economically living on the margin of society.

Although they present a third of the Mexican population, the indigenious peoples have hardly access to education which is why about half of them can neither read nor write. Due to environmental destruction and loss of their territory, most indigenes have to fight daily for the basis of existence and become victims of violence. Even though several aid agencies called attention to this topic, there hasn’t been the slightest improvement of their living conditions, yet. Quite the contrary – more and more adolescents belonging to an indigenous group carry an identity crisis inside. They deny their roots to protect themselves from discrimination.

Individual development

With the help of art, the youngsters of the dancing group try to find their own place between tradition and the modern world and to stand their ground. Therefore they meet three times per week to create dance choreographies together. In doing so, they make use of their whole body and learn to get a better sense for it. Those trainings create room to express oneself and to let the thoughts run free. The foundation for it are the questions “who am I?”, “who do I want to be?” and “whom do I want to tell who I am?” They understand this search for identity as a source of inspiration as well as a political statement.

Recover your own shadow

Translated, the name of the dancing collective means “my shadow and the shadow of the strange”. People who enter in the shadow of a tree cannot distinguish between their own and the tree’s shadow anymore. The same thing happens when people move from the countryside into the city: the own shadow gets lost in the big shadow of social classes – the individuality gets lost.
The Mexican youths now want to recover their shadow and thus their uniqueness through art.

Everyone who wants to find out more about this year’s ensemble of Snak’obal Jnak’obal can find more on this page.

“Sak’il Tsek – The white skirt”

The dance of “Snak’obal Jnak’obal” speaks its own language. With a lot of tactfulness and a remarkable sensitivity, the group creates scenes on stage, which are far beyond linguistic levels. By professionally connecting elements of modern dance with scenic work their universal message is easily communicated.

With their performance “Sak’il Tsek” in English 'the white skirt', the youngsters tell their stories and experiences of living in a city as indigenes in a modern dance choreography.

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