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Celebrating the Culture of Bolivia with Traditional Dances
If you travel to La Paz during the month of July, you would probably assume that people there like to celebrate often the culture of Bolivia. It seems that every week there is a major parade traversing the capital; a feast that usually includes plenty of live music, colorful costumes and traditional dances. It also seems that Paceños (as people from La Paz are referred to) like to leave the best for last. Every year, on the last Saturday of July takes place the Entrada Universitaria, one of the largest and most important folkloric manifestations in La Paz.
The Entrada Universitaria is organized by the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés (UMSA) and it’s held in commemoration of the university’s self-determination. This year was the 26th edition with thousands of students and faculty members participating in the event. But before it takes place, the students research the origins and traditions of the dance they will be representing. Some of these dances are at risk of being forgotten, so the students are making an effort to keep the culture of Bolivia alive.
Some of the Most Impressive Dances
One of the most majestic costumes in the parade are those of the Diablada (Dance of the Devils), they are highly ornate and can be quite heavy. This traditional dance comes from Oruro and mixes elements from Spain and Andean religious ceremonies. It’s a very colorful affair that portrays the struggle between angels and devils.
This is a very energetic dance in which participants jump and bounce a lot. The Tobas were a tribe of warriors from the Chaco region in Bolivia. When the Inca came searching to expand their empire they became very impressed by the Toba people and their culture. Since then, this traditional dance has been reinterpreted by different peoples.
This dance is a representation of an indigenous ritual that originated in the Andean region of Potosí. Tinku dancers simulate combat between groups by raising fists, jumping and kicking to the rhythm of lively music. It is quite surprising to find out that this dance in which all participants are usually laughing and smiling has such a bloody past.
The colorful displays of the Entrada Universitaria are a great opportunity to get a good taste of the culture of Bolivia and its many beautiful traditional dances. If you are planning to travel to Bolivia around this time, it is worth it to stop in La Paz to witness this great folkloric event.
Have you seen any of the colorful traditional dances of Bolivia? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!