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Preserving Guatemala’s Ancient Dance of the Gods

Adorned in hand-carved masks and animal hides, the dancers bob and weave before delighted onlookers who’ve traveled from near and far. This is Baile del Venado, one of many Mayan dances integral to Guatemalan history and religion. The “Deer Dance” signifies the coexistence of humans, animals and the greater natural world; and it blesses the lives, work and harvests of those who perform it. In Patzún, Guatemala, villagers perform the Deer Dance the day before the Feast of Corpus Christi, a Catholic holiday celebrated throughout Central and South America.


Patzún, Guatemala

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