Inspired by the research of Dr. Ivan Van Sertima in his classic THEY CAME BEFORE COLUMBUS, Mr. Salaam has created a choreo-myth depicting the relationship between the often depicted black-skinned, feather-working caste known as the Pochteca and the Ancient Aztecs. These West African immigrants lived and traded within the Aztec Empire in medieval Mexico. They were also considered by the Aztecs to be the Amenteca or Heads of the Faith, a hybrid Native American group who utilized various cultural elements of the Pochteca , and after combining them with their own rites, developed the religious cult Coyotli-Nauatl (coyote medicine men). Also called Amantigi, they were almost identical with the Namatigi (the hyena cult of the Bambara in the savannahs of ancient Mali). Both names mean “Head Master of the Faith.” Additionally these two cultures which ultimately became one, developed and lived in the city of Tlatelulco during the late 14th century and early 15th century of the Aztec Empire, and firmly established itself by 1407, during the reign of the Emperor Tlacateotl according to Dr. Van Sertima. Most notably, the Pochteca also became the principal long distance merchant class in the Aztec empire.
Mr. Salaam has chosen to exercise artistic license in utilizing the research within Dr. Ivan Van Sertima’s THEY CAME BEFORE COLUMBUS; the Djembe orchestra of Mali; elements of the Nagual folkloric traditions of the Aztecs; and the circumcision /excision rite of the Congolese, Gbaya, Banda and Ngbaka in continental Africa called Ganza, as a basis from which he formed his own rhythmic and choreographic explorations in this work.
Choreography, Costume,Musical Direction, Set and Light Design: Abdel R. Salaam