This is a very important tradition in Guatemala, and it is celebrated in many many villages in Guatemala as well as in Guatemala city, taking place specially during the ‘fiestas patronales’ (patron celebration). This activity captures the attention of local and foreigners alike.
This dance symbolizes the struggle between the Moors and the Christians of Spain, showing the Muslim power in the Iberian peninsula (they usually wear red suits and dark masks during this dance) that clashes with the Catholic army, which finally wins.
This tradition began during the Spanish colonization with the concept of converting the locals from Guatemala to Catholicism by participating in this dance.
For the dance, the Spaniards are represented by performers using very colorful costumes, masks with beards, crowns, mirrors and flowers, while the Moors use dark masks with devil designs, long suits that imitate the turbans and fabrics that fall from the head. Over the time, the Guatemalan culture has added many other aspects to this tradition to include local arts and expressions, such as animal characters, including and the very famous ‘Baile de Torito’ (Bull’s Dance), ‘Danza del Venado’ (Deer Dance) and ‘Danza del Jaguar’ (Jaguar Dance).
Each village has evolve its own style with it comes to the costume design and the actual dance, for example… there is the famous ‘Toro Fuego’ (Fire Bull), a character that has firecrackers exploding while the performer dances and dances giving turns all around.