Dragon Dance has been participating in the
preservation of intangible cultural heritage
through the exploration of the creative arts since 1976.
This page presents the
Dragon Dance 2023 international cultural exchange projects
with the Totonac and Zapotec communities of Mexico
October and November 2023
Sam Kerson and Katah were invited by the Jiménez-Henestroza family of the Zapotec community of San Blas Atempa, in the Isthmus of Tehuantapec, Mexico to participate as artists-in-residence for a period of 6 weeks during the fall of 2023. This was an in-depth immersion, fully integrated, intense experience, living and working shoulder to shoulder with the people who have become our extended family.
Through the organizational skills of our close allies and community spirit, 6 different projects in which we could participate were organized:
> all photos and videos on this page are © Katah, 2023
Day of the Dead in Mexico
Guided by Maira Jiménez Desales, we were invited by Alfredo Gallegos Villalobos and his wife America to the Traditional Day of the Dead gatherings and ceremonies of the Bario Santa Rosa in Tehuantapec.
Vicente Jimenez Desales and his mother Lambertina took us to the cemetery for customary preparing and decorating rituals. We observed, participated and recorded their actions that would guide the spirits of their loved ones who were to visit that night, thanks to the opening of the milky way.
Sol y Luna
exhibit, book launch, presentation, visits
Curated by Samantha Jiménez Grijalva, an exhibition of the portfolio of prints, Sol y Luna was presented at the Casa Gietiqui, the cultural center of the LaSalle University Tehuantapec campus. Sol y Luna is a selection of linoleum block prints engraved by Sam Kerson and printed by Katah with the help of Vicente Jimenez Desales and Roxana Lopez Corona. In 12 images, the cosmology of the creation of the sun and the moon is recounted.
The opening was attended by the community where we gave a public presentation about Dragon Dance, our history and interests in the Oaxaca valley and the Isthmus of Tehuantapec since 1994. We also discussed the process of printmaking and the participation of Vicente and Roxana as artists in residence with Dragon Dance when this series of prints was produced.
Special initiative by Victor Hernandez, director of the high school encouraged the younger generation to attend guided visits.
For the occasion, Dragon Dance published 2 different paperback book with the images and the story. One version is in Spanish/English and in the other version the story is told in Spanish and Zapotec. The book launch occurred during the opening of the exhibit.
El Rio de la Vida
Screening at Caza Guietiqui
This movie was produced by Dragon Dance Theatre in collaboration with Nisarindani in 2008. Directed by Sam Kerson. All scenes were filmed on location, San Blas Atempa, by Edson Caballero and Katah on second camera.
Casa Guetiqui, showed the movie as part of a movie festival they hosted November 2023. For the occasion, several of the actors and actresses were present. A number of scenes included the local community and many came to see the film.
Our movie had become part of San Blas’s historical record presenting the Zapotec culture as the essence of the story which was written by Maira Jimenez Desales, who was in attendance and spoke at the screening.
Paseo de la Muerte
Exhibition at Galeria Gubixia
Union Hidalgo, Oaxaca
“In Paseo de la Muerte, we find Katah and Sam Kerson’s unique interpretation and presentation of the Day of the Dead celebrations, recreated with an Isthmanian flavour. Their visits to the Zapotec community of San Blas Atempa over the past 30 years have caused them to be welcomed into homes and to be part of many festivities where they have been able to take part and make on-site sketches.
This particular series brings us very close to the day-to-day preparations of traditional foods, music and dances. Their images describe the ritual of building the altars and the traditional visits to the cemetery.
With light and well-arranged strokes, cuts, marks, and gestures, these images show us a story that narrates itself.”
Víctor Fuentes, Gubidxia Gallery
Union Hidalgo, Oaxaca Mexico, November 2023
read the article in english
Chente and Samantha's Wedding
San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca, Mexico
Vicente Jimenez Desales and Samantha Jiménez Grijalva had a 3 day traditional wedding, November 19, 20 and 21. The event took place in the heart of this Zapotec community. Dragon Dance was there to witness, celebrate and record this extraordinary event.
Artist in residence project with invited guest artist Mitzi-Jan
Mitzi-Jan came from the heart of Totonac land. Born and raised between the mountains of the Sierra Madre of Puebla and the Coast of Veracruz, she is a graduate of fine arts from the University of Puebla, a musician, organizer of community events, and a skilled engraver. During the summer of 2023, she spent 3 months in residence at Dragon Dance in Québec. A rich cultural exchange project that evolved as we shared bread, told stories and drummed by the altar all the while producing 2 different art projects
production of the Totonac legend,
The Hare and the Moon
public storytelling presentation at the Parc Antoine Gauthier, during the festival 'Rendez-vous des Coureurs des Bois'
an artist book
by Mitzi Jan
During her residency, in collaboration with Sam Kerson and Katah, artist engraver Mitzi-Jan produced her first artist book Mujer Corazon. A collection of 16 linoleum block prints, prepared and hand pulled and bound onsite, at the Atelier du Livre,
An ode to the women of Huehuetla, to feminism, Indigenism, women united in art, to international cultural exchange, and the preservation intangible cultural heritage.
This is a rare book that transcends current trends and speaks out to originality and self realization.
> all photos and videos on this page are © Katah, 2023