American Indian Museum Hosts Contemporary Kaqchikel Mayan Dance and Music Program To Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

“Uk’u’x Ulew: Heart of the Earth” Dance Program Will Reflect Environmental Issues Facing Humanity Today

August 18, 2017

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., presents “Uk’u’x Ulew: Heart of the Earth,” an original Mayan contemporary performance showcasing the xajoj q’ojom (Kaqchikel “music/dance”) of Grupo Sotz’il, a world-renowned Kaqchikel Maya ensemble from Guatemala. The program will take place Sept. 16 and 17, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Potomac Atrium, with the performances happening twice daily, at noon and 3 p.m. The 60-minute performances are appropriate for all ages.

The performances, rich in interactive elements, combine live music and dance, with water, earth and fire playing a vital role in narrating the story of humankind’s profound interdependence with the ecological matrix. After each performance, members of Grupo Sotz’il will showcase their handmade musical instruments and dance masks, explaining their meanings within a Kaqchikel Maya worldview and philosophical framework.

“Uk’u’x Ulew: Heart of the Earth” provokes reflection on the environmental, political and spiritual dimensions of people’s relationship with the Earth. Grupo Sotz’il was founded 17 years ago in El Tablón, Sololá, Guatemala. The eight-member ensemble of young Kaqchikel and Mam multidisciplinary artists is dedicated to researching, creating and promoting Mayan knowledge and arts. Grupo Sotz’il’s art reflects the present and envisions the future, with firm roots in the wisdom and knowledge of their ancestors.

The presentation of “Uk’u’x Ulew: Heart of the Earth” is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and with special thanks to the International Mayan League and the Indigenous Arts Institute.

The National Museum of the American Indian is committed to advancing knowledge and understanding of the Native cultures of the Western Hemisphere—past, present and future—through partnership with Native people and others. Located on the National Mall at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue S.W., the museum is open each day from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). It is accessible from L’Enfant Plaza Metrorail station via the Maryland Avenue/Smithsonian Museums exit. Follow the museum via social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. To learn more about the museum’s mission, visit

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[Category: Society and Culture]