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The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)

La Adelita
By Ron Houston

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Ron Houston

BACKGROUND

Information: A dance.

During and after the 1910-1913, Mexican revolution against Porfirio Díaz, corridos (ballads) appeared, commemorating the role of the soldadera (woman soldier). Several of these corridos achieved lasting popularity: La Marieta, La Rielera, La Valentina, Juana Gallo, and La Adelita. Corridistas (musicians who traveled across Mexico) sold inexpensively printed corridos as hojas volantes (flying leaves, or, broadside ballads). The lyrics, engraved illustrations, and text of these broadsides served the function then that television serves today: indoctrinating the people to accept the huge devastation and death toll (up to a million Mexicans died). "La Adelita" tells of a brave soldadera (woman soldier) who remained faithful to her Sergeant lover. It occurs in countless variations, some anonymous.

Alura Flores [1905-2000] (see her biography in the 1993 Folk Dance Problem Solver) learned traditional pasos norteños (Northern Mexican dance steps) during her training as a physical educator. While working for the Lienzo Charro del Piedregal – a school of the Charro association that teaches dance, lasso-work, and horsemanship, Alura set these steps to the popular "Adelita" tune to teach 4 to 5 year-old children for a stage performance. She arranged a second stage variation for folk dancers in the United States in the early 1960s and presented it in San Antonio in 1972 through El Patronato and the Extension Courses of Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM). Nelda Guerrero Drury learned Adelita from Alura and presented it at the 1974 University of the Pacific Folk Dance Camp at Stockton, California. Nelda presented later that year in Chicago a third variation with partners facing each other throughout. Alura presented the second variation at the Stockton Camp in 1978, with the errata giving the third variation. Alura presented the third variation to folk dancers in Austin, Texas in 1979, with two additional motifs.

Translation: Little Adela

Pronunciation: lah ah-deh-LEE-tah

Other name: En lo alto – the first line of many versions of the song.

Region: Mexico

Meter: 2/4

Music: Peerless 45/3248-A, La Adelita.

Costumes: Rancheros, Traje Norteño, or the special Adelita costume.

Formation: Couples at random on the stage, partners about 1½ meters apart, woman to R of man. All face front. Couples line up across the stage and diminish in numbers to the rear. The woman holds her skirts comfortably out to sides and a bit forward. The man hooks his thumbs in his belt front or buckle.

Steps and Style: Dance light-heartedly and with spirit.

Push-step to R (1 per ct): step to R onto R foot while "pushing" to L with L foot (ct 1), step beside R foot onto L foot (ct 2). Hold skirt high on the R side. To dance push-step to L, use opposite footwork, handwork, and direction.

Heel-toe-cross to R (1 step per bar): hop on L foot (upbeat of bar) and touch R heel out to R side (ct 1), hop on L foot (ct &) and touch R toe across and in front of L foot (cts 1,2). Turn head and shoulders to R. Turn head and shoulders to L when dancing heel-toe-variation to L. Hold skirts wide to sides on the "heel." Bring hands (holding skirts) toward each other on the "toe". Arms remain gently rounded. During any action that follows, return skirts to original position.

Heel-toe (1 per bar): hop on L foot (upbeat of bar), touch R heel forward (ct 1), hop on L foot (ct &), touch R toe straight back (ct 2). Also done hopping on R foot, touching L heel and toe.

Taconazo (heel-strike) (1 per bar): leap in place onto R foot (ct 1), step beside R foot onto L heel (ct &), step in place onto R foot (ct 2), strike or scuff L heel in place, no weight (ct &). Weight stays predominately over R leg with R knee bent. Lean to R and raise L skirt somewhat. To repeat step, use opposite footwork and handwork.

Atole (milk-drink) (1 per bar): step diagonally forward to R: onto R foot, behind and to R of R foot onto L foot, onto R foot (cts 1,&,2). Bend R shoulder slightly forward and down and sway to R. R hand with skirt moves forward; L hand stays back. To repeat step, use opposite footwork, skirtwork, and direction.


BARS ACTION

  Introduction.
1-10 No action. Now don't let the "8 bars plus 2 bars" structure fool you into starting early!
 
1.   Remate (stamp) and push-step. Face front, but look at your partner. Or, face partner.
1-2 Stamp in place with R foot, no weight (ct 1), dance 2 push-steps to R (cts 2,1), step to R onto R foot (ct 2).
3-4 = 1-2 with opposite footwork and direction (stamp, push, push, stamp to L).
5-16 = 1-4, 4 times in all.
 
2.   Heel-toe and push-step. Turn to face partner.
17 Hopping on L foot, dance 1 heel-toe-cross step to R.
18 Dance 1 push-step to R (ct 1), step to R onto R foot (ct 2).
19-20 = 17-18 with opposite footwork and direction (heel-toe, push & step to L).
21-32 = 17-20, 4 times in all.
 
3.   Heel-toe, jump, and turn. Turn toward partner to face front (or you may remain facing partner).
33 Hopping on L foot, dance 1 heel-toe step.
34 Jump in place onto both feet (ct 1).
35-36 = 1-2 (again, heel-toe jump).
37-40 Hopping on L foot, dance 3 heel-toe steps, turning in place once to R (360° CW). End facing front, and jump in place onto both feet (ct 1 of bar 40).
41-48 = 33-40 with opposite footwork and direction of turn (2 heel-toe jumps, 3 heel-toes CCW, and jump).
 
4.   Heel-toe-and-run step. Woman holds her skirts comfortably out to sides. Face front or face partner.
49 Leaping onto and hopping on L foot, dance 1 heel-toe step.
50 Run forward 3 steps onto: R foot, L foot, R foot (cts 1, &,2).
51-52 = 49-50 with opposite footwork; dancing backward to place with the 3 running steps.
53-64 = 49-52, 4 times in all.
 
4 Optional.   Heel-toe-cross steps, alternating. Alura added this motif to the dance in 1979. Face front or face partner.
49 Hopping on L foot, dance 1 heel-toe-cross step.
50 Leaping onto and hopping on R foot, dance 1 heel-toe-cross step with L foot.
51-64 = 49-50, 8 times in all.
 
5.   Taconazo. Face front or face partner.
66-80 Dance 16 taconazo steps in place, starting with a leap onto R foot. Woman dances 8 steps in place, travels forward with the next 4, and turns to face man (if necessary) with the last 4 steps.
 
5 Optional.   Atole. Alura added this optional motif to the dance in 1979. Face front or face partner.
65-80 Dance 16 atole steps in place, starting with a leap onto R foot. Woman dances 8 steps in place, travels forward with the next 4, and turns CCW to face man (if necessary) with the last 4 steps.
OR: Both dance in place.
 
7 thru 12.   = 2. through 6. Repeat the dance, omitting figure 1.
97-176 = 17-96.
Note: On stage, face front during figures 1, 3, 4, and 5, but face your partner during figures 7-12. This adds variety to the presentation and increased interest on the part of the audience. In a social or recreational setting, however, you should face your partner throughout the dance.
Note also: You may substitute the following alternate finale:
 
12.   Alternate finale.
173-174 Dance diagonally across own square with heel-toe-and-run pattern to resume side-by-side position, facing front. Start by leaping onto L foot.
175 Hopping on R foot, dance 1 heel-toe step in place as man puts R arm around woman's waist. L hands are joined and woman's R hand holds skirt.
176 Stamp onto: L foot, R foot (cts 1,2), and pose.

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