World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Bolivia Corazón de America

First appearance in SF EDF: 2002

Bolivia Corazón de América was formed in 2000 by Susana Salinas to give Bolivian-American children an opportunity to dance and perform music of their heritage. Today, the company includes young people of all backgrounds, and its goal is to showcase the traditional dances of Bolivia with innovative approaches. Now including young dancers from other Latin American countries and the US, the company performs at charitable events around California, such as La Peña Internacional de Las Damas and Coaniquem, and the Beijing Touring Festival.


GENRE: Folkloric (Tarabuco and Potosí)
TITLE: Pachamama
DANCERS: Denisse Aguilar, Felisa Amaya, Maria Jose Amaya, Diana Avila, Miguel Barranco, Yaret Bello, Paola Claros, Flor Diaz, Saúl Diaz, Vianney Enriquez, Isidro Fajardo, Alondra Godinez,Yaretzi Hernandez, Maria Alicia Lemus, Matthew Lockmer, Rachael Lockmer, Brenda Martinez, Rebeca Perez, David Ruiz, Rubi Sarmiento, Sarath Sok, Grace Torres
MUSICIANS: Leonardo Arauco (guitar), Miles Bainbridge (khena, zampoña), Fernando de Sanjines (Andean percussion), Eddie Navia (charango), Enrique Veizaga (khena, zampoña)

From indigenous Tarabuqueño and Potosí communities in the Bolivian Andes, this is Pachamama, three dances to honor Mother Earth. Choreographer Isidro Fajardo tells us “Mother Earth—called Pachamama—is indigenous earth and encompasses all life. She is us and we are her, in what we wear, flowers and leaves; and in mountains, she is living. We request permission to do anything with her, to her, around her. She is the reason we dance.”

The set includes:

Pujllay, a Yamaparáez warrior dance from Tarabuco, Sucre, Bolivia. Male dancers follow endless patterns along a path paved by elders and the wise. They wear thick fabric shields, and, to frighten their foes, ojotas en zancos platform shoes and tall hats. Women dance to cleanse the Earth and respectfully enter the space. They assemble food, a quilt, flowers, and ferns, making an offering they will dance around for three days. These are traditional
festivities, marking the Combate de Jumbate of 1816, when the Yamaparáez defended their land against Spanish invasion, using mostly sticks and stones.

Zapateo Potosíno, a lesser-known Potosí style, danced in deep connection to Pachamama. Their rhythmic stomping grounds the dancers, and acknowledges we are always stepping on her, always connected.

Kalampeo or Potolos, a style based on farming work, from the small Potosí communities of Limes and Pochuatas. Festive, fast-paced turns and stomping continue to praise, consecrate, and thank Mother Earth.

In their gratitude, the dancers wear the Pachamama’s gifts. Warriors wear silver thread and dangling silver utensils, in homage to the mines of Potosí and Sucre. Wool and feather headdresses are tributes to Earth’s delicate natural beauty; regional fabrics with symbolic embroideries honor Pujllay plants; a bright layer on women’s old-style skirts turn the dancers into flowers.



TITLE: Death of Slavery
GENRE: Afro-Bolivian
DANCERS: Denisse Aguilar, Diana Alemán, Viviana Alemán, Natalie Conneely, Saúl Díaz,Isabel Elias, Isidro Fajardo, Maria Alicia Lemus, Jenniffer Martinez, Juliet Peña, Sabrina Rabaneh
MUSICIANS: Saúl Díaz (güiro), Dennis Hernandez (drums), Roberto Hernandez (guitarra), Matthew Lockmer (drums), Lila Mejia (percussion), Oscar Mendoza (drums), Guido Moscoso (bombo, drum, güiro, whistle), Jose L. Reynolds (charango), Miguel Sisniegas (khena, zampoñas)

Death of Slavery presents Afro-Bolivian dance-theater, a piece that speaks of paradox and truth. A combined wake and celebration takes place in a community of enslaved Africans in Bolivia’s colonial era. A beloved child is dying, so why does the community dance in joy? To protect the girl from a fearful passing, and to express gratitude that death will release at least one innocent child from the shackles of slavery.

As this dramatic dance implies, it’s impossible to overestimate the suffering of the Potosí miners. Beginning in the 16th century, tens of thousands of Africans were brought to Bolivia and forced to work in Potosi’s silver mines as acémilas humanas, human mules. The mines, 4,000 meters in elevation, were filled with toxic fumes and mercury vapors; it’s said that miners worked twelve hour days, remaining underground for four consecutive months. Some workers survived only a few months. From 1545 to 1825—the end of the colonial period—as many as eight million African and indigenous Bolivian miners died. Children also worked in the mines, for fewer hours, in similar conditions.

Over the centuries, communities of indigenous Bolivians, Africans, and Europeans merged cultures and traditions, creating and defining Afro-Bolivian dance and music. This choreography highlights Afro-Bolivian rhythms and the dynamic energy of African-based movement, with its extension of arms and legs, spontaneity, and improvisation. Also noticeable is a straight body posture acquired from European dance styles.

Costumes reference the present-day Afro-Bolivian community of Los Yungas, La Paz. (Emancipation in the early 19th century began the relocation of Afro-Bolivians to Los Yungas.) Dancers wear traditional clothing of Aymara and Quechua indigenous people; the long-ago-adopted Spanish mantilla; and white and light colors to cool down from the heat. Handkerchiefs and vibrant colors are celebratory props, used to extend the joy that must be let out.

Afro-Bolivian rhythmic instruments, now indigenous, resemble African instruments and are also European influenced. The drums are the bombo; the chaskas are bells used by the caporales or capatazes that controlled enslaved miners; and musicians also play the scraped guiro, the ukulele-like charango, Spanish guitar, whistles, Bolivian panpipes, and the khena flute.


GENRE: Traditional
TITLE: Kusisiña, Plumas y Bufones
Denisse Aguilar, Diana Alemán, Viviana Alemán, Felisa Amaya, Isabel Elias, Isidro Fajardo, Alicia Fernandez, Jennifer Martinez, Oscar Mendoza, Sabrina Rabaneh, Krystal Siliezar.
Edmundo Aliaga (roncoco), Jose Luis Arrazola (guitar, charango), Elvin Gutierrez (panpipes Zankas, Toyos), Rafael Laruta (native percussion), Gilmar López (guitar, panpipes, khena), Edson Veizaga (panpipes Maltas, Antaras, Toyos)

From the Altiplano—the Andes’ twelve-thousand foot high inland plain—here is a presentation of Kusisiña, Plumas y Bufones—Dances of Feathers and Fools.

The first piece, Suri Sicuri, is an UNESCO Intangible World Heritage dance from indigenous Aymara and Quechan communities, dating back to 800 BCE. It is thought to be originally a hunting dance and “suri” is the Quechuan name for the American Rhea, a large flightless bird similar to an ostrich. Sicuri is a musical form performed by marching musicians playing the “sicu,” the Quechuan name for the zampona panpipes.

Local history tells of the Inca once teaching the giant birds to dance to the pipes, opening their wings, spinning in place, and shaking their behinds as if in courtship. In this piece, the dancers’ magnificent feather headdresses represent the bird’s backsides, and their movements mimic the rhea’s turns. Bolivia Corazón De America unites the ancient choreography with contemporary ballet-based movements, to amplify the suri’s delicate movements and its majestic attempts to fly. The dance also shows a character named Tata Kusillo trying to play with the birds until they run off. His children arrive, filling the stage with jumps, turns, and tricks.

The second piece, Kusillo, features the dance of the traditional Andean clown said to represent many characters: a roguish devil, the Andean tiwula fox, and the parody of a Spanish colonizer. Kusillo’s origins are not certain. His crazy and devilish attitudes are similar to the Greek god Dionysus and his earthiness is connected to the Aymara concept of Manq’ha Pacha, the spiritual-physical dimension of Earth’s depths, profound thought and feeling, and realms of the past.

Choreographer Isidro Fajardo learned this dance in Bolivia and choreographed this World Premiere in 2012. The brightly colored costumes are similar to those worn in the Bolivian Andes, and musicians play regional instruments: charango lute; bombo drum; khena flute. The zamponas panpipes are the favorite traditional instrument of the Lake Titicaca region in present day Bolivia and Peru, flutes that mimic the high mountain winds.


Title: Magical Encounters in the Altiplano
Suri Sicuri
Artistic Director/Choreographer:
Isidro Alfonso Fajardo
Dancers: Felisa Amaya,
Melissa Anguiano, Kristin Bard, Esteffany Calderon,
Jaime Echavarria,
Isidro Alfonso Fajardo,
Herbert Godoy, Gabriela Hernandez, Christina Perry, Maria Alicia Lemus, Jeniffer Martinez, Kiuver Orizabal, Laura Rubio, Jesus Sandoval

Magical Encounters in the Altiplano is a presentation of suri sicuri, a dance from Amarya and Quecha communities in northern La Paz, Bolivia, dating back to 800 BCE. Suri is the indigenous Quechua name for the American Rhea, a large flightless bird similar to an ostrich. Sicuri is a musical form performed by marching musicians playing the zampoña (sicu in Quechua) panpipes.  

The dance is set (and peformed frequently) in the Bolivian altiplano, a vast inland plain at altitudes of ten to fourteen thousand feet. The terrain is rocky and the climate is cool, windy, and dry. Indigenous women called indiecitas open the dance, and they move with a delicate humility, a weary sadness for their hard lives, and a discernable pride in their heritage.

One of the women becomes curious at the appearance of a suri. Fascinated, she admires the bird's beautiful feathers and grace, and the suri allows her to dance with him. The flock becomes envious and pushes the woman away, but she has decided she must herself become a suri. She performs a delicate magical ritual, and crowning herself with suri feathers, she is transformed into a large beautiful bird. The suri are filled with joy and they join in a celebratory dance.

It's said that the Inca could make the suri dance for them: at the sound of the zampoña panpipe, the suri opened their wings and spun in place, shaking their behinds. This display is also courtship behavior, and the ancient dance is based around it. The magnificent feather headdress represents the bird's backside. The dancers turn in place, and stretch their limbs to lift up their bodies, mirroring the suri's grace. It's surmised that suri sicuri originated as a hunting dance.

The costumes are made by Susana Salinas, and the headpieces come from Bolivia. The shield-like covering of the hunting gear was originally made of jaguar hide hardened into a protective shape. The musicians play the Incan zampoña pan flute. Two performers are needed to complete the musical scale, reflecting the Andean ethos of the balance of opposites.


TITLE: A Day in the Life of a Campesino
Salaque, Tinku
: Susana Salinas
DANCERS: Felisa Elizabeth Amaya, Maria Luisa Bachinello, Juan Alberto Bandera, Kristin Bard, Isidro Alfonso Fajardo, Ryan Flores, Randy Flores, Gabriela Jacqueline Hernández, Luis Alfredo Hernández, Elsie Lopez, Maria Alicia Lemus Lovo, Oscar Armando Luna, Wendy Michelle Millán, Melisa Palacios, Christina Perry, Laura Rubio, Edwin C. Siliezar Jr., Juan José Urrutia

Artistic Director and Choreographer Susana Salinas created Salaque and Tinku to premiere at this year’s Festival.

Salaque was originally danced in southwestern Bolivia. It celebrates the planting and harvesting of quinoa, a grain native to the Andes—a grain so sacred that Incan emperors are said to have sowed the first seeds each year with golden implements. In this dance, farmers express their satisfaction and gratitude for the harvest with rhythmic tapping of heels and flirtatious swishing of skirts. The men wield shovels and the women sling on atados filled with provisions, and carry flowers to symbolize abundance. The songs are primarily in the Quechua language, expressing the work of harvesting in the time of love.

The next dance, Tinku, is a pre-Columbian ritual from Potosí, 12,000 feet above sea level. It is remarkable that these traditions survived, as many indigenous people died in Potosí's Spanish silver mine, which opened in 1541 and operated for several hundred years. Tinku, in Quechua, means encounter or duel, and this dance is known as a “fierce celebration.” Originally, communities, or ayllu, danced on sacred grounds to settle feuds. The pututu—made from a bull’s horn—was sounded as the call to fight. Teams of dancers faced off, comparing feats of strength, vying for favor from Pachamama, or Motherland. What did the traditional dancers win? Practically everything until the next tinku: abundance, fertility, prestige, coveted land and water rights, as well as favors from the losing party. These ritual confrontations are still practiced in the Potosí region.


TITLE: Suri Sicuri and Tobas
DANCERS: Felisa Amaya, Maria Amaya, Sarita Barbara Arrescurenaga, Alberto Banderas, Daniela Camacho, Fabiola Diana Camacho, Marvin Espinoza, Isidro Fajardo, Priscilla Fallas, Ryan Flores, Irene Garcia, Gabriela Hernandez, Luis Hernandez, Israel Lazo, Maria Alicia Lemus, Oscar Luna, Wendy Michelle Millan, Osmar Morando, Quang Nguyen, Melisa Palacios, Christina Marie Perry, Laura Rubio, Alvaro Salinas Jr., Edwin Siliezar, Juan Jose Urrutia, Magali Vasquez

Bolivia Corazon de America performs two traditional pieces. Suri Sicuri is a dance dating back to 800 BCE from the Andean communities in northern La Paz. The name refers to the ostrich, the suri, as the magnificent headdress is made of its feathers. The dance is performed in harvest ceremonies and depicts the hunting of the suri. Sikuri is also a popular musical form performed by a large number of marching musicians playing the panpipes know as siku. Two performers are needed to complete the musical scale, which reflect the Andean ethos of the balance of opposites.

The second dance, Tobas, is a dance that commemorates the clashes between Incan and Amazon warriors. Tobas is a tribute to the powerful warrior people, the Toba, who are part of a large group of indigenous peoples from Argentina, Paraguay, and the Amazonian lowlands of Bolivia. The name toba comes from the Indian language Guarani meaning, “big forehead,” as it refers to the Toba people who cut their hair short in the front to signify they were in mourning. The Toba were a fierce people who, originally nomadic hunter-gatherers, successfully resisted colonial intrusion for many centuries. Using spectacular masks, costumes, and feather headdresses, the dance consists of agile jumps and quick-footed steps rhythmically syncopated to the sound of the drums.


TITLE OF PIECES: Tinku, Suri Sikuris
Susana Salinas
Maria Luisa Bachinello, Juan Alberto Bandera, Andrea Bermudez, Daniela Camacho, Elizabeth Camcho, Fabiola Camacho, Ryan Flores, Elvin Gutierrez, Alfonso Guzman, Oliver Guzman, Andrea Lino, Lillian Lino, Christian Morando, Osmar Morando, Melisa Palacios, Jhamil Reynolds, Alvaro Salinas, Jr.

Bolivia Corazon de America performs two traditional pieces. Tinku is a pre-Columbian ritual from Potosi, Bolivia in which two communities come together in a "fierce celebration." Originally performed on sacred grounds, people fought for their ayllu, or community. Each community would compete and compare strength in an attempt to gain favor for abundance and fertility from Pachamama, the mother land. Winning the battle meant gaining prestige, land rights and favors from the losing party. Tinku is also a musical rhythm done to a marching movement.

From the Andean communities in northern La Paz, Suri Sikuri is a dance dating back to 800 BC. The name refers to the ostrich, the suri, as the magnificent headdress is made of its feathers. The dance is performed in harvest ceremonies and depicts the hunting of the suri. Sikuri is a musical form, performed by a large number of marching musicians playing the panpipes, know as sikus. Two performers are needed to complete the musical scale, which reflect the Andean ethos of the balance of opposites.

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