The Deer Dance, or La Danza del Venado, is a dance of the Mayo and Yaqui peoples from the northern Mexican state of Sonora. The dance celebrates mestizaje by integrating Amerindian spirituality with the Catholic Easter ritual. During the dance, one masked dancer, the pascola, portrays a nefarious being who must ultimately seek forgiveness; the dancer with the part of the deer represents the good in the world. 

Mérida created these images of the dance within just four years of each other. Yet they are starkly different.

mestizaje |mɛs.ti.ˈsa.xe|

NOUN refers to racial and/or cultural mixing of Amerindians with Europeans
ORIGIN Spanish, ‘mixed,’ from the Latin mixtus

Deer Dance1935
Oil on canvas, 24 3/16 x 20 3/16 inches (61.4 x 51.3cm) 
The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Deer Dance 

Can Mérida, who was Guatemalan, offer a compelling abstract interpretation of an indigenous culture which was not his own? Or does the abstraction represent the power of the dance, avoiding clichés about indigenous traditions?

The Pascola and the Deer, plate 8, from the portfolio Dances of Mexico, 1939
Lithograph on paper, 9 3/4 in (24.765 cm), 13 ½ in (34.29 cm)
Gifts of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, W.935.1.44

The Pascola and the deer

Are the lithograph's bright palette and flat figures too simplistic, almost cartoonish? Or does the visually pleasing style capture the richness of the dance for a broad audience?