World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Kantuta Ballet Folklórico de Bolivia

DANCE ORIGIN: Potosi, Bolivia
GENRE: Traditional Diablada
First Appearance in SF EDF: 2007

South America is home to some of the oldest known societies, with pre-Columbian civilizations dating back to earlier than 15,000 BCE. Aymara and Quechua cultures are among the indigenous peoples that still dwell in the Andes Mountains, which cover parts of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Chile. In Bolivia, fifty percent of the population is of indigenous ancestry.

Bolivia’s rich dance repertoire consists of pre-Columbian dances performed in rural areas during religious and secular community celebrations, as well as European influenced mestizo dances, which originated after the Spanish conquest. Mestizo dances are common in urban centers where they are performed at popular festivals and celebrations of Catholic patron saints. During these community celebrations, group solidarity is strengthened, while shared values and cultural identities are reaffirmed.

Artistic Directors and choreographers of La Diablada, Andrea and Lillian Lino, formed Kantuta Ballet Folklorico de Bolivia in 2006, in order to spread and preserve Bolivian culture through the performing arts. Raised in the Bay Area, they have visited their ancestral country many times, and for the last four years they have performed in dance festivals throughout Bolivia.


TITLE: La Diablada, Los Mineros
DANCERS: Cecilia Fonseca, Jose Luis García, Rosa Garcia, Alfonso Guzmán, Delany Guzmán, Oliver Guzmán, Andrea Lino, Lillian Lino, Mario Lino, Joaquin Loayza, Sandra Loayza, Agripina Lopez, Elsie Lopez, Yvonne Melean, Chris Morando, Darcy Nuńez, Edgar Paez, Natalia Paredes, Ruth Preciado, Judith Preciado, Betty Reynolds, Jhamil Reynolds, Jose Luis Reynolds, Miguel Sánchez, Sara Torres, Gonzalo E. Vargas, Jasmin Vargas, Milka Vargas, Chelsea Zabala

La Diablada, choreographed by Kantuta, originates in Potosi, Bolivia, at the beginning of the 18th century, as a reflection of the period when the Spaniards forced the indigenous people to work in the mines in search of gold and silver. The miners, who were significantly influenced by the Catholic faith, offered coca leaves, liquor, and decorated sculptures of the devil as a way to ensure their safety in the mines. Devil dances, and a three-day annual carnival in the mining town of Oruro, were a way of worshipping their underground protector. The miners also worshipped Pachamama who they considered Mother Earth, and in order to sustain traditions, mapped this deity onto the Catholic patron saint of mining, the Virgen del Socavon.

The first dance in Kantuta’s new choreography, Los Mineros, portrays the ordinary working life of the miners, who give offerings to the tio (devil sculpture), and then dance with their wives in celebration for being alive. The background sounds of hammers and chisels in the accompanying music mimic the noises echoed throughout the mines. They then go off to the mines to work.

The second piece, La Diablada, portrays an eternal theme--the conflict between good and evil. This dance features a host of masked dancers, including innocent devil princesses and a small bear. Lucifer appears as a huge masked figure with horns and a crown and battles with the Archangel Miguel, who commands them to repent for the seven deadly sins they have committed.

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