Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bolivia Diaries: Traditional Dancing

Yesterday, we traveled to Tiwanaku, ancient ruins dating from more than two thousand years ago until about 1200 AD. I've got only a short time on the internet, so I will save my pictures and stories from Tiwanaku (which involves a VERY cool agricultural system) for another day. Instead, I am posting about several traditional dances we saw at a festival yesterday, with pictures. (When I asked what the festival was for, the Bolivians with us shrugged and said "There's one nearly every week.") Today we leave for an indigenous village where we will stay with families who don't even have electricity, let alone internet. Chances are that I won't be online for a little while.

Enjoy the pictures below!

The first dance we saw, which I did not get any pictures of, is the Tinku. This is a ritualized "fight" in which the two halves of any ayllu (the traditional kin groupings here) "fight" one another. I don't know how much it is truly a fight and how much it is just a dance and a pretend fight, but apparently, there are actually deaths that occur as this happens. (The person telling me about it implied that the dancers might be drunk and the deaths might be accidents.)

The Morenada is a dance that represents slaves working during the Colonial period of Bolivia. There are various theories on its origin, but the one we were told is that it represents the slaves working in the mines. The beat of the music is intended to sound like the chains of the slaves.

Dancing the Morenada

Another Morenada dancer, in costume


Same dance, different costumes

I am not sure but I think this picture shows the Morenada as well

This dance represents that African slave trade that occurred during Colonial times. I don't have a very good picture here, but you can hopefully see that the dancers are dressed like masters of slaves in suits with tails and a top hat. The movements of the dance represents actions taken to punish the slaves.


The Llamerada is one of the oldest dances, dating back to ancient Aymara times according to this site. It is a dance done by young people, who represent llama herders. The actions taken in the dance represent swinging a rope with a rock in it to sling at any llamas that try to stray.

I am pretty sure I was told this was llamerada, but I am now told it's Cullawa

Other pictures:

A woman watching the dances

Some men walking, in costume.

This is a pretty awful picture but it gets a good sense of the dancers and the crowd at the event. The entire place was a packed, like any Memorial Day parade in America, with vendors walking through the crowd selling things, and tons of families on the sides of the road watching the dancing. We were driving past in a van and the traffic was brutal.

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