The members of OLLIN YOLIZTLI CALMECAC (OYC) come from various parts of Mexico. Some are new to the U.S. and some have been here many years. The group was founded by Daniel Chico Lorenzo and Brujo de la Mancha in 2003. Daniel has extensive knowledge of ancient Mexican culture and languages. His first language was Nahuatl, one of the main Indigenous languages spoken in Mexico. Brujo de la Mancha is a multidisciplinary, self-taught artist who helped Daniel in the process of creating and building OYC. As the first Aztec dance troupe in Philadelphia, OYC evolved into a not-for-profit organization. Brujo learned the traditional Aztec dance and drumming from Daniel, as well as other elders of the Mexica tradition who have participated in OYC's Master Artist in Residence Program (MARP). Since Daniel Chico's 2006 departure to his home town in Puebla, Mexico, Brujo has taken on the role of Artistic and Executive Director of the organization, further strengthening the mission to investigate, understand and raise awareness of the Mexicayotl culture.
Since 2004, we have made a big impact as an organization. Through the resources available on our website, we have been able to guide people who are looking for information about Mexico, Aztec dance and culture, as well as the history and contemporary reality of indigenous peoples throughout this continent. Also in 2004, OYC organized the first annual festival called “The Fall of the Bellybutton of the Moon”, commemorating the final battle the Aztecs fought in defense of their capital city, Tenochtitlan. This festival takes place in South Philadelphia, on 11th St. and Washington Ave., every August 13. Since that time, we have had festivals, celebrations, and many more activities, led by and for the Mexican Community.
In August of 2005, OYC invited Master Xavier Quijas Yxayotl to perform with OYC at the Wilma Theater for our three-year anniversary celebration. Xavier is a master flute player and flute maker, as well as a keeper of much knowledge of Aztec dance and music.
In August of 2007, Brujo again brought Master Xavier Quijas to Philadelphia for a one week residency to teach OYC's members various Aztec songs and their accompanying dances. This was possible thanks to the support of The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) and the Institute for Cultural Partnership (ICP).
In March of 2008, Brujo brought two well-known Master dancers to Philadelphia, Masters Totokani and Mazatl Franco, for a one-week special training for OYC dancers. Both masters learned the traditional Aztec dances beginning when they were children in Mexico City, from another master from a very well-respected lineage.
OYC's co-founder Brujo, did an exploratory trip to the West Coast in the Winter of 2008-2009 to look for new collaborators for our Master Artist in Residency Program, and to continue networking from Seattle, WA, to Monterrey, CA. As a result of these trips, through networking and with the help of different Kalpullis, we have opened possibilities to take OYC's work to a national and international level.
In 2009, OYC's work focused on cultural exchange. The artist-in-residence program brought three master dancers to Philadelphia from across the country. One of the masters, Roberto Franco "Totokani”, joined Brujo in leading OYC's dancers in two performances in Washington, D.C. - an evening performance at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and a special performance at the National Library of Congress, held June 17 & 18, 2009.
In 2010 and 2011, we set new goals to move the organization in new directions, focusing on more stable programs (including our Clay Workshops, strengthening our Master in Residency Program, and our Public Talks Series). At that time, we also saw new doors open to enable us to work with other Native American groups in Philadelphia, setting up the framework for further collaborations with Native groups nationwide.
In 2012, we continued to expand our alliance-building and work with individual artists, Masters, and organizations. We hosted a community talked titled “Mexicans of Today: Identity Crash/ Los Mexicanos de hoy: Identidades encontradas” led by Master Totokani and his mother, General Mikiztli, both elders in the Mexica tradition.
We co-organized the 2nd Annual Hip-Hop Sin Fronteras event at The Rotunda and participated in the “Align and Awake into Awareness” gathering held at the Lotus of Compassion center.
Deepening our collaboration and exchange with our Native American brothers and sisters in the region, we co-organized the 1st Indigenous People’s Day Celebration and Powwow and were awarded a grant to visit several sacred Mound-Builder sites in Ohio, learning more about the region’s Native history, and opening the door for us to build an alliance with Native groups there.
In 2013, we continued to expand our collaborative work with Native American groups, co-organizing the 2nd Indigenous People’s Day Powwow. We also hosted the Lakota Grandmothers’ “Truth Tour”, in which several Grandmothers and Elders from the Pine Ridge reservation presented the documentary “Red Cry” and spoke about their struggle to reclaim their traditional matriarchal leadership and end the suffering of their people, especially the elders who still live on Reservation lands.
We also helped to organize the 3rd Hip-Hop Sin Fronteras event and hosted a talk with spoken word artist Bocafloja, in which he spoke to youth about empowerment through music and community involvement, giving voice and strength to social movements.
Throughout the year, had several danza, art, and public speaking presentations in the community, as well as a special danza presentation at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, led by Master Totokani and his brother Mazatl.
In 2014, we held the second part of our workshop series titled “Mexicans of Today/ Los Mexicanos de hoy”, inviting Master Totokani and Generala Miquiztli to speak again about their experiences of and perspectives around Indigenous Identity and cultural preservation in contemporary Mexico.
Once again, we co-organized the 3rd Indigenous People’s Day Celebration and Powwow, gathering Indigenous people from throughout the continent who live in the Philadelphia area, so we can meet, network, and have a space for our voices to be heard, and our distinct heritages honored.
(OYC) is the first organized group within the Mexican immigrant community in Philadelphia with a mission to educate both Mexicans and non-Mexicans about Indigenous Mexica culture. (OYC) has inspired other folklore groups in PA who adapted some of the ideas and dances of (OYC) and opened doors in Philadelphia and New Jersey for Mexicans to form other groups. OYC organized the first festival in South Philadelphia, on August 9, 2009, at 11th and Washington and continues to organize and sponsor festivals, celebrations, and many more activities for and by the Mexican Community.
OYC defines its artistic success by reaching Mexican newcomers living in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. We fulfill our goal of informing the public about native cultures as well as teaching the traditional cultural dances, music, and heritage to other Mexicans, Native Americans, and all those who hold Indigenous descent to this continent. This organization has been an example to other “Callpulis” (Aztec Traditional Groups in Mexico, USA, Canada, and Europe) who wish to become affiliated under the umbrella of OYC. Immigrant communities can be difficult and fractured and OYC is proud to be an organization that has brought groups together to look at their own past with pride and to view their own community as a whole. Some people refuse to take pride in their own heritage. We hope to be able to continue to dance and perform for the community in such a way that it will help members of the Mexican community see themselves differently and with greater pride. We succeed on another level when we create events that unite the communities and teach about the roots of the Americas. This helps the communities to acclimate to their new city and reach out to other cities for cultural exchange. In this way, we have been able to reach a more diverse audience.
OYC's current plan involves organizational and structural improvements such as expanding our networking projects and developing Master Artist workshops and residencies. This year we have added the component of music which we create using handmade instruments.
We have a new Board of Directors solidifying the direction that the group will take. OYC is in the process of recording a CD and is going to be on “Chanel 6 for the Puertorrican Panorama Show” from April 2008 - June 2009. We want to create a network with other organizations so we can offer internships, gatherings, and conferences in order to take OYC to the national and international level as an organization that is preserving the tradition of this ancient culture.
Some of the anticipated outcomes of the proposed project include:
A- Improving (OYC) quality of presentations.
B- The establishment of the Aztec culture in the community of Philadelphia and giving opportunities to others to revive their own pride.
C- Expanding our educational sessions from dance presentations to festivals and video documentaries.
D- Improving the Board's capacity to raise funds and increase OYC's annual operating budget from $20,000 to $50,000 per year;
E- Creating and approving a Strategic Plan for FY2020-2023
Long-Range Art Plans:
In the face of political repression and rising racist violence and xenophobia, we wish Philadelphia to be known as a center for Native American Indigenous arts and culture, which celebrates native Mexican heritage and history and preserves sacred and artistic traditions. Too often, children learn about Indigenous people in history books, as though native populations only existed in the past or on reservations. We aim to make our communities and the wider Philadelphia community aware of the relevance and importance in the everyday lives of native traditions such as clay sculpture, the creation and playing of musical instruments, mask-making and costuming, the Nahuatl language, Aztec Dance, and ceremonial rituals. We aim to make Philadelphia's community proud of its native roots.
We are working on one special project, to take (OYC) to the national and international level to make a set of tours to fulfill the mission of our great Mexica ancestors, that is to live in union with nature and each other, with messages of "Unity, Peace and Respect to all." On these tours, we want to take a few Masters of this tradition and skilled dancers.
Also, we are working on a new program called Digital History which enhances history teaching and research through primary sources, an online textbook, extensive reference resources, and interactive ...this it will take OYC transnational ..
Former Dancers and less frequent contributors:
Former Dancers 2006-2009
Ruben del Rosario. (since 2006)
A native of San Mateo Ozolco, Puebla, Mexico. Ruben grew up learning his “maternal” ancient language of Nahuatl, as well as a little of the Spanish that is now most predominant in Mexico. He moved to Philadelphia several years ago. This new place made it necessary for him to dance and prompted Ruben to look more into his ancient Mexican cultural roots.
Jose Luis Morales. (since 2006)
A native, Puebla, Mexico. He grew up learning his “maternal” Spanish which is now most predominant in Mexico as well as a little of the ancient language of Nahuatl. He moved to Philadelphia and New Jersey several years ago. This new life made it necessary for him to dance and to look more deeply into his ancient Mexican cultural roots.
Edgar Adrian Alcantara Plata. (since 2007)
Born in Mexico city in the barrio de Iztacalco he learned to work at a young age with His parents because his family is in the small business of women's beauty supplies. All family members are from Mexico. city. He finishes junior and high school as well (vocational). He also just lives in Nezahualcoyotl Edo. de Mexico. He always liked alternative/ rock - Music, and now he lives in Philadelphia he has two children.
Former Dancers 2005-2006
Former Dancers 2005-2006
Roberto Vargas Guzman and Family:
Born in Azcapotzalco Mexico City: Roberto has been always into the Aztec dance because he was also born in the big city of Mexico where all people from the city are exposed to the rich expender of cultural heritage. Roberto was amassed by the work of OLLIN YOLIZTLI CALMECAC in the Day of the Dead celebration he just running his bike and he saw the display of the ofrenda and then just wanted to be part of the dance group.
Maria Areli Juarez Salazar:[31 years old]
Lili was born in Mexico City, but her parents were born in Penjamo y Cueramaro Michoacan, in the state of Guanajuato. Lili started dancing after her husband, Roberto began to dance 2 years ago, Lili thinks it is very important for her son, born in Philadelphia.
Roberto Vargas Juarez: [5 year old]
Robert dances with both his mother and his father.
Kevin Trejo Hernandez: [6 years old] and Jiovany Trejo Hernandez [5 years old]
Since both Kevin and Jiovany were born in Philadelphia, they don’t have the same connection to Mexico that their parent does. But their parents want that the two boys understand who they are and were they come from.
Jose Manuel Jimenez: Hernandez [11 years old]
Jose was born in Santiago, in the state of Puebla, his parents are from San Mateo Ozolco, Puebla, Jose's grandfather also took part in the rituals of the Aztec Dance by participating in the traditional Aztec gathering at POPOCATEPETL ( Smoky Hill) volcano.
Former Dancers 2003-2004
Francisco Garcia Gorgua:
Born in San Lucas El Grande, Puebla, Mexico. Francisco met Daniel in Philadelphia. Francisco was interested in knowing more about the ancient cultures of Mexico, as well as the Aztec Dance. He is also interested in painting and has displayed his art during some Aztec dance events. Francisco has been with the dance group since the beginning.
Born in Veracruz, Mexico. Lucino came to the group out of a curiosity about Mexican culture. He was a friend of Francisco and first came to see Francisco dance. After watching for a time he decided to join the group. Lucino has been a principal dancer and is a part of the main circle that is integral to the dance.
Marta Berenice Robles:
Born in Tehoethiuacan Mexico. At 11 years old, Berenice is the youngest in the group. This little girl joined the dance group after she saw the group perform at one of our ceremonies in Philadelphia. She liked the Aztec dance because she loves Mexico and Mexican culture. Since Berenice joined the group, her entire family has begun to participate in some aspects of the dance. Her father has also now joined the dance group, and will be a part of the main dance group soon.
Maria de la Luz:
Born in Mexico City, Maria is the mother of three children: one boy and two girls. Maria brings her children to the dance with her in order to keep the traditions alive. For Maria, the group is an important contribution to her children’s education about Mexican Culture.
A folklore dancer by profession, Jessika has developed a great interest in Aztec dance, as well. Jessika is a native of Mexico City who now lives in the Harrisburg area. She participates in the dance whenever possible.
Emmy Breton & Nicole Alexander.
Cesar Viveros & Cesar Ramos Pantoja