On this CD, Cleofes Ortiz is joined by Ken and Jeanie and several other friends. The tunes are longer so that they are more useful for dances and instructions are included for some of the New Mexican Spanish Colonial dances.
CLEOFES ORTIZ AND FRIENDS
This album is dedicated to musicians of all cultures who have traded, shared or stolen tunes throughout history.
It is a culmination of playing many dances with our friend, Cleofes Ortiz, throughout New Mexico, and as far north as Port Townsend, Washington and as far east as Washington, DC. We all love this music and want the world to hear it, play it, and dance to it.
These tunes are truly multicultural: some came from from Eastern Europe, and some came from Mexico with Maximillian’s mercenary soldiers. others were brought by the Spanish Jews escaping the Inquisition, as well as from the many travelling musicians passing through New Mexico. The advent of radio added newer influences. But in Cleo’s hands they are as New Mexican as chile verde.
1. Valse de los Paños (2:52)
2. La Julia (1:50) The words to this song are a bit risque and Cleofes didn’t want to record them.
3. Caballito Blanco (2:19) An old Mexican tune, still played in Mexico and by the Tohono O’Odham in southern Arizona.
4. La Cadena (1:58)
5. La Cuna (2:49)
6. La Vaquera (1:20)
7. Cleo’s Americana (4:52)
8. La Favorita (1:20)
9. Valse Escoba (4:42)
10. Limbo Bernal (1:59)
11. Polka Rowdy (2:35) A very nice polka.
12. Muñequita Linda (1:47)
13. La Asesina (1:10) The tune to a favorite Mexican tune, often sung in northern New Mexico.
14. Portalito (1:49)
15. La Indita (3:05)
16. Home Sweet Home (2:11)
17. Campanilla Dorada (0:58) Cleofes said this is a tune for the dance, El Talean.
(In general the A & B parts are 16 measures each)
We learned these dances, except La Indita, from Bonnie Apodaca, from Arroyo Seco, NM, just south of Española. She was in her sixties when we met her in the early 1980s. She had learned the dances as a child from her parents and grandparents. She told us that her grandfather had run a dance hall for a time. She taught these dances to children in the schools in the area. She had a small dance group of adults, which we played for until about 1985. Although a large woman, she was one of the most graceful dancers I have ever seen. We were indeed fortunate to meet her, as their are not a lot of people who know these dances.
Lorenzo Trujillo and his family in Denver, originally a Taos family, has learned both the music and the dances from their family. Although their dances are very similar to these, they have regional variations and are sometimes more complicated than these versions. The tunes are also somewhat different. We found that everywhere we travelled and collected in the area, there were regional variations of both the dances and the tunes.
We would like to thank all of the people who have struggled to maintain these bits of the old northern New Mexico Spanish colonial dances.
1. Valse de los Paños (Handkerchief Dance)
(A) The man stands holding a handkerchief in each hand, with a lady on either side, each holding the opposite corner of the handkerchief, arms slightly upraised. The threesome faces another threesome, and starting on the right foot, they waltz forward for four measures, then back for four measures. Repeat once.
(B) The man raises his right arm and sends the lady on his left under his raised arm and follows her through, continuing to dance the waltz step. The right-hand lady then has a turn to go under the man’s left raised arm. Repeat once.
This part can also be done with both women going forward at once, the lady on the left going under first, requiring the man to turn to the right with the right arm up and then back the the left with the left arm up, so that he ends up swivelling back and forth as opposed to following one lady through.
With a large amount of people, this can be danced with all the groups of three in a large circle, all facing the center and walking towards the center and back during the (A) part.
4. Valse Cadena (Chain Waltz)
Traditional first dance of the night, and a way of greeting everyone. This usually starts out the first and last time through in a large circle which includes everyone, in between, people dance in smaller circles.
(A) Two to four couples join hands and circle to the left in a swivelling waltz-step (right foot first on the one beat, then the left) until the last four beats of this part, whereupon they all go into the center with a “1,2,3,4”; stomping the floor loudly and raising their hands and greeting each other in the middle.
(B) Couples break off and waltz around the room until the end of this part, whereupon they circle up with different couples.
5. La Cuna (The Cradle)
This is a dance that we have not found in Europe in the present day. It is a favorite when we play at the Grand Bal de l’Europe in Central France.
(A) Two couples face each other; ladies on the right. Ladies shake the opposite man’s left hand with their left hand and walk around the man, left hands raised above their heads. Men don’t move. When the ladies are facing their partners, they take his right hand, raising it as they walk through the arch (passing next to their partner) made by the raised left hands, turning to the left to make the cradle formation of everyone’s hands in the center. Relax the grip so that everyone is comfortable, and balance in and out while maintaining La Cuna (the cradle hand position.)
(B) Partners break off and polka together until the next (A) part. They couples can then either dance again with the same couple or with another couple. As a circle dance, the A couples could advance clockwise and the B couple counter clockwise around the ring.
You can call the A part by giving the women instructions thus: “Left to your opposite, walk around the outside, right to your partner and go through the arch.”
In northern New Mexico, the polka is done with small steps and in a very relaxed manner, almost rocking back and forth, unlike the more galumpfing, fast, twirling polka common in the upper midwest of the United States.
6. La Vaquera (The Cowgirl)
(A) Couples line up; each lady on the right, shaking her partner’s right hand and clasping left hands under the right. Starting on the right foot, couples step-hop in schottishe step for 16 measures.
(B) The couple lifts all four hands up while the lady first turns to the right and then the man to the left; all the while step-hoppin forward and being careful not to twist their partners hand by holding too tightly, like a windmill or an egg beater. There should be eight turns for each person in the (B) part of the tune.
The (B) part can also be done using only the hands between the partners, the lady going forward turning around to the right and then under the arms and back to her place and then the man begins his turn to the left, turning around and under, carrying on in this manner until the end of the B part (16 measures). It looks like horns of a Bighorn Sheep.
9. La Escoba (Broom Dance)
The dances in Hispanic communities required that all males recieve permission to dance with a young lady. Before asking her, he had to receive the permission of her parents and perhaps also the permission of her brothers and grandparents. This is a dance that allowed the broom dancer to time the dance with the broom so that he would end up in front of the lady he wanted to dance with when he dropped the broom. Two people could also cut across the line at diagonals to dance with each other as the broom was dropped by the broom dancer. These actions did not require permissions.
(A) Men line up shoulder to shoulder about six feet from and facing a line of women of equal number. An extra man (or woman) dances with the broom up and down the middle (showing offhis/her dancing skills to the point of silliness), and at the end of this part, he drops the broom and grabs a partner while everyone rushes for a partner. The extra person takes the broom and dances with it throughout the rest of that A and the next B part (where he dances up and down the center of the lines).
(B) Everyone now chooses a partner and waltzes, lining up again at the end of the”B” part and the A part commences with the new broom dancer cavorting between the lines of dancers.
The (A) part, when working with all or many children, sometimes works better by having the broom dancer hand off the broom to another dancer (instead of dropping it) at the end of the A
part. This avoids the problem of children tripping
over the broom.
It also helps, with any group of dancers, to call out: “Drop It” at the end of the (A) part and “Line Up” at the end of the (B) part.
10. Limbo Bernal
Cleofes had never seen the Limbo Rock, having learned the tune from another local fiddler, thinking it was another old tune from the area.
When we played it for a dance up at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington, somebody grabbed the Broom Dance broom and held it perpendicular to the floor and a Limbo line formed with everyone doing the Limbo under the Limbo stick. Cleofes gave us a perplexed look, saying, “¿Que pasa?” (“What are they doing?”).
15. La Indita ( The Indian Lady)
We learned this from Rudy Ulibarri, who learned as a youth in the area around Roy, NM. He said that it seemed to be a rather serious dance, perhaps indicating a joining of both Hispanic/European steps and Native American steps and, at one time, may have been somewhat cermonial.
(A) Two couples line up; ladies on the right holding their partners’ right hand with their left. Each person steps on their outside foot and turns away from their partner in a “step-step-step-pause’ on the whole flat of the foot in time with the music. They then turn towards each other for the second set of these steps. For seven measures, they continue swivelling away and towards each other, while moving forward at the same time; then bowing towards each other on the eighth. They then face the other direction and go back that way in the same manner.
(B) Each couple dances ballroom style in the same three-beat step.
Cleofes Ortiz: Lead Fiddle
Jeanie McLerie: Harmony Fiddle on 1,2,3,4,5,6,9,10, 14,15,16; Guitar on 7,12,13
Ken Keppeler: Mandolin on 3,4,10,11,14,15
Harmony Fiddle on 11
Antonia Apodaca: Guitar on 3,10,11,14,15
Paul Rangell: Guitar on 1,2,4,5,6,8,9,16
Terry Bluhm: Acoustic Bass
Scott Mathis: Mandolin on 1,2,5,6,9,12,16
Recorded on 2/11, 2/12/90. and 4/16/90 at UBIK Sound in Albuquerque, NM; Live to 4-track PCM/Beta HI-FI mised to R-DAT. Engineered by Manny Rettinger.
Cover Art on the original Cassette from the original lithograph, “El Proveedor de La Vida” by Paul Rangell. Additional art by Janet maher. Design and art production by Donna Carpio.
Notes and Dance descriptions by Jeanie McLerie and Ken Keppeler
This CD is a copy from a DAT Master and is only available until UBIK releases an official CD release of this valuable cultural recording. This is only made to keep the music available.
Another CD of CLEOFES ORTIZ:
VIOLINISTA DE NUEVO MEXICO – Cleofes Ortiz with Augostino Chavez and Jeanie McLerie.
UBIK Sound 1986. Original cassettes available as well as a CD copy of the original UBIK cassete made from an original master.
THE CORN IS FROM A LITHOGRAPH BY PAUL RANGELL – EL PROVEEDOR DE LA VIDA