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Richmond Folk Festival
Announces Tezcatlipoca Voladores

Mexican Flyers to do Trapeze-like Ritual from 90-foot Pole

September 5, 2008 (Richmond, Va.) -- The Richmond Folk Festival organizers are excited to announce the addition of The Tezcatlipoca Voladores, a group of traditional Mexican “voladores” or flyers, performing an ancient Mayan ritual, to the exciting line-up at the inaugural Richmond Folk Festival on October 10-12, 2008.

The Tezcatlipoca Voladores will perform the “Sundance”, which involves jumping from the top of a 90-foot pole and swinging slowly to the ground in circles from the ropes tied to the flyers ankles. To accommodate the a performance, The Richmond Folk Festival organizers have purchased a pole from Dominion Power that will be secured into the ground on the site a week prior to the festival. At that time the tribe will come to Richmond to bless the pole prior to the “Sundance” the weekend of the festival.

“Surely one of the most spectacular rituals created in the western hemisphere, The “Flying Man” Sundance has religious significance as well as being an intricate and amazing acrobatic feat”, said Josh Kohn, programming manager for the National Council for the Traditional Arts for the National Council for the Traditional Arts.  “The earliest description of it comes from Christopher Columbus. The navigator reached the North American continent on his fourth voyage in 1502 and wrote of an amazing dance he saw at an Indian village in what is now southern Mexico.”

The Tezcatlipoca Voladores hail from Tajín, Veracruz, Mexico, where this “Sundance” tradition is believed to have originated. The dance begins with the four flyers entering the circle led by the Priest. The Priest, who is dressed in red and white to represent the sun, wears a multi-colored headdress to represent a rainbow. All five dance around the base of the pole, stopping in the four primary directions to ask permission for the Sundance which honors the Creator. The four flyers, in turn, ascend the pole, which towers from the earth a full 80 feet (ten feet of the pole are below ground), topped by a small platform which holds an eight-inch diameter drum. The pole represents the connection of the earth to the heavens, our earthly connection to the divine, the Creator. The rope, which is wrapped around the pole from the bottom to the top, and which they use to climb, represents the umbilical cord. The Priest, representing the rising sun, is the last to ascend.

Once on top he makes an offering in song, playing a flute (which represents lightening) while dancing on top of the drum (which represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth), stopping in the four directions to offer a prayer in song. The drum carries his footfalls down through the pole to the earth as his flute song is carried to the heavens. The Priest, continually playing, takes a seat on the drum and the four flyers drop backwards into the air, feet tied to ropes attached to the pole, and descend, making thirteen revolutions before they reach the earth. This number 4 X 13 = 52 represents Venus, the morning star, and her influence on the earth. The symbolism is tied to the Mayan civilization’s intimate knowledge of astronomy and the heavens. After the four flyers reach the earth they wait as the Priest, who represents the setting sun moving to touch the earth, descends. This ends the dance and their offering of thanks to the Great Creator.

In addition to The Tezcatlipoca Voladores, the Richmond Folk Festival has also announced eleven of the more than 25 performing groups to be featured at the festival. These artists include: The Dan Tyminski Band, one of the top bluegrass bands in America, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, one of America’s premier Cajun bands and the leading ambassador of Cajun music, Líadan, six young music masters from across the pond in Galway, Limerick and Dublin, Ireland, performing traditional Irish music, Ledward Ka’apana & Mike Kaawa, two of Hawaii’s most respected players of the slack-key and 12-string guitar, Howard Tate, performing Soul and R&B, Dale Watson playing original honky-tonk country, Traditional Arabic music will be performed by the esteemed Nadeem Dlaikan & Friends, Eddie & Alonzo Pennington, from Princeton, Kentucky, performing thumb-picked guitar, Inuit throat singing will be performed by Nukariik, a sister duo from Kangiqsualujjuaq, Nunavik, Quebec, Eastern European musical group, Harmonia, and San Jose Taiko, performing Japanese drum and dance.
The Richmond Folk Festival also recently announced the theme for the 2008 Virginia Folklife Area. Entitled New Neighbors: Common Ground in the Commonwealth, it will explore Virginia’s immigrant culture through the artistry, creativity and community life of new immigrants, highlighting artistic achievement, deeply-held cultural expressions and cross-cultural communication.

Venture Richmond, in collaboration with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) and the Richmond Folk Festival Programming Committee, has selected a rich variety of performers for this year’s festival. Additional groups will be announced in the coming months as they are confirmed for the 2008 event. Please visit the website,, for complete performer bios and photos.
About the Richmond Folk Festival
The Richmond Folk Festival continues the three-year tradition established by the hugely successful National Folk Festival in Richmond, Virginia, celebrating the roots, richness and variety of American culture through music, dance, traditional craft and food.

The Richmond Folk Festival takes place October 10-12, 2008. In the exact likeness of the National Folk Festival, the Richmond Folk Festival will feature more than 30 performing groups on seven live music stages with continuous music and dance performances, along with a Virginia Folklife demonstration area, children's and family activities, a folk arts marketplace, regional and ethnic foods and more. The FREE three-day festival is expected to be one of the largest events in Virginia, and the largest festival in Richmond, drawing visitors from across the country.

The “National” has been held in 27 communities around the country and spent three years on downtown Richmond’s riverfront from 2005 through 2007. The National has moved to Butte, Montana, but Richmond is continuing the cultural celebration by presenting its own festival with the same commitment to quality and authenticity established by the National. Planting the seeds for continuing folk festivals across the country is part of the mission of the National Folk Festival; hence the reason for its three-year stay in selected cities.
The Richmond Folk Festival is produced by Venture Richmond in continuing partnership with the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA), the same organization that produces the National Folk Festival. Other producing partners include the City of Richmond, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the National Park Service, the Library of Virginia and the Children’s Museum of Richmond.

Stage Sponsors and Major Contributors to date include Comcast, Dominion, Genworth Foundation, NewMarket Corp., Philip Morris USA, Richmond Times-Dispatch, SunTrust, The Community Foundation, Ukrop’s/First Market Bank and Wachovia/Wachovia Securities.

For more information, please visit or call (804) 788-6466.

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