Aztec dancers a state fair favorite

MONROE — The beating of the drum told the crowd of about 60 people the dancing was about to start.

The four men and one young woman of the Tlokenahuake Aztec Fire Dancers group started spinning and kneeling during their one-hour performance at the Evergreen State Fair.

All this while wearing feathers and colorful costumes adorned with skulls and Aztec symbolism.

They also played with fire and invited members of the audience to dance with them.

They have performed this show for the past 22 years. This year, they are scheduled to perform twice a day at the Indian Longhouse.

It was the first time Jessica Timpe, of Kenmore, had seen a performance. Her three young children were enjoying it, Timpe said.

“They love the costumes and the dancing,” Timpe said.

Tloke Nahuake means “Together and United” in the Aztec language. The group performs to preserve culture.

“The dance is about creating energy,” dancer Jose Salinas, 43, said.

The dance is special because it expresses where one comes from. Dancers also become part of nature when they dance, Salinas said.

The group is in its third generation of dancers. It started with Salinas’ father. His daughter and nephew are part of the group.

Coming to Monroe is special for the group because of the welcome they receive, Salinas said.

Members of the Salinas family live all around the country. Jose Salinas lives in Seattle and his older brother, Juan, the group’s leader, traveled from Florida for the fair. Sometimes, the group invites dancers from other states and Mexico to join their performances.

Snohomish siblings William and Angeleah Harper were among the audience members who danced with the group Thursday.

“It was a good way to involve the audience,” 17-year-old Angeleah Harper said. For William, 14, the dancers provided a means to learn about other cultures.

“It teaches us more about the world around us,” he said.

Woodinville resident Dalise Wagner has been watching the group perform at the fair for 11 summers. This year, she watched alongside her mother, husband and two sons, who are 11 and 9 years old.

“Their costumes are beautiful and the music is fun to dance to,” she said. “We really enjoy watching them.”

Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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