The Aztec warrior of the barrio, as Lazaro Arvizu is sometimes called, moves quickly through the crowd gathered in the old plaza next to Olvera Street, his costume and shiny jewelry glistening in the sun.
Already a conch shell has been blown to sound the call to the four winds. Arvizu pauses briefly as the sound is met by clicking camera shutters and cries from onlookers--Xipe Totec has begun another performance.
Xipe Totec, meaning "new life," is a Los Angeles-based Aztec dance company founded and directed by Arvizu, 31, a native of the Tacuba section of Mexico City.
Arvizu and other members of the decade-old company hold classes Tuesday evenings at Downey Park, 1775 N. Spring St., and Thursday evenings at El Sereno Park, 4721 Klamath St. The program is part of their desire to pass on the ancient ceremonial dances they were taught by their elders.
In addition to teaching Aztec dance and performing with his group, Arvizu re-creates the pre-Columbian costumes worn for such dances as the Tonantzin, Chachayotl and the ceremonial fire dance to Xiucoatl, symbolic of the sun and its mystical powers.