There is time a during every fiesta when the sun grows larger in the sky, stomachs grumble, and everyone takes a break. No feast day would be complete without a bowl of green chile stew and a tortilla to chew on when the heat becomes too much. As the afternoon drones on, the community settles into their lawn chairs and lethargically squints out at the play that has resumed on the plaza.
Kicking up dust in the center of the courtyard a cowboy lassos a guy in a bull costume and then frolics with a cross-dresser. The crowd cheers and chuckles. It’s fun to watch the same neighbors that you run into at the grocery store clown around, but what does it all mean? Everything is open to interpretation.
According to the church bulletin, the Ensaye is a play that comes from the village of Santa Fe, near Granada, Spain and was written in 1503. It tells the story of how the Spanish converted the Muslims to Christianity after they tried to steal the Holy Cross. The conquistadors performed the dance in an effort to evangelize New Mexico’s Native Americans, but instead, the Pueblos infused the spectacle with their own culture and beliefs. Throughout the years the role of each character has flip-flopped between good and evil to reflect the preferences of the performers. Continue reading