The Dance of the Conquest

The Dance of the Conquest of Guatemala

In Four K’iche’ Communities


Marvin Cohodas, professor emeritus

The University of British Columbia

© Marvin Cohodas


  1. This work is available for free download. I choose not to publish it because then it would bring income to the publishing house and not the participants in the Conquest Dance who most deserve it. Also, though I have invested nearly $50,000 of my own salary in this project, I ask for no monetary compensation, as this too would be injurious to participants.


  1. Except where otherwise noted, all photographs are by the author and included with written permission from the dance team autores.


  1. Entire project is available for free download in English. Part III on contemporary performance is also available in Spanish, translated by Mónica Daniela Pérez Montelongo. See Spanish page.



Front Matter:

Dedication, Acknowledgments


Part I: Opening

Chapter 1: General Introduction

Chapter 2: Costumbre: The Religious Context Maya Festival Dancing

Chapter 3: A Brief Historical Sketch of Maya Public Ritual Dance and its Institutionalizations


Part II: Text

Chapter 4: Background information

Chapter 5: Early Style Scripts

Chapter 6: Modifications to the Early Style Text After 1870

Chapter 7: Linking Cantel and Dioses Lineage Texts to Changing Historical Circumstances

Chapter 8: Dating the Origin of the Dance of the Conquest of Guatemala


Part IV: Performance

Chapter 9: Shared Conventions of Baile de la Conquista Performances

Chapter 10: Generalized Dance Sequence for the Baile de la Conquista

Chapter 11: Cunén

Chapter 12: Saints and Danced Primeros

Chapter 13: Joyabaj

Chapter 14: Pantomimes as Hidden Transcripts: Tekum and Resistance

Chapter 15: Momostenango

Chapter 16: Pantomime as Resistance: Ajitz as the Heart of the Baile de la Conquista

Chapter 17: San Cristóbal Totonicapán

Chapter 18: Traditional Festival Dance as Folklore


Part IV: Closing

Chapter 19: Towards a Transculturation History of Guatemala’s Baile de la Conquista

Chapter 20: Postscript


Back Matter:

References Cited

Scan of Cunén Text collected in Nebaj

Permission Forms