Bolivia is a country located near the center of South America.
Bolivia has two capitals. The Supreme Court meets in the city of Sucre,
but most other government offices are located in La Paz, Bolivia’s
Most Bolivians are of Indian or of mixed Spanish and Indian ancestry. Many still live in rural areas and work as farmers.
geography includes dry plateaus, rain forests, hills, grasslands, and
The Andes Mountains, the world’s longest chain of
mountains above sea level, are located, in part, in western Bolivia. The mountain range continues along the west coast of South
America, a distance of 4,500 miles. The Andes are about 400
miles across at its widest parts. Many peaks rise to above 20,000
[ Huayno | Suri Siquris ]
The Aymara and the Quechua cultures are among the indigenous civilizations
that still dwell in the Andes Mountains of South America, which cover parts
of Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Chile. These cultures have continued to carry
on traditions of dance and music that date back to earlier than 15,000 BC.
The Aymara culture has a wealthy repertoire of folk dance and music known as
Native (pre-Colombian) and Mestizo dance, which originated after the Spanish
conquest and incorporated European influences. In urban centers, Mestizo dances
have found much popularity, especially during local festivities and celebrations
of patron saints, while Native dance has only found minimal acceptance. However,
Native dance is still performed in rural areas during religious or secular
community celebrations, examples of this dance being: Sikuris, Pinkillus,
Chaqallus, Lawa k'umus, Chuqilas, K'usillos.
The events during which music and dance are traditionally performed in this
region are considered expressions of communitás: an expression of community
structure and solidarity through ceremonial events, which interpret and reaffirm
common values and identity. Whether the event is religious or secular, private or
communal, music and dance are important mechanisms of communication and underline the communitas.
Andean music is known as that music performed by the four basic instruments: siqu (siku)
(also called panpipes or zampoñas), charango (stringed instrument), bombo (drum), and quena (flute).
The siqu is of Aymara origin, while the charango was created after the Spanish conquest, as string
instruments were originally unknown in the Andes. In ancient times the charango was made with the
carapace of the armadillo, which historians believe first originated in Aymara territory (Potosi)
in the 17th century.
Until the 1960s these instruments were played only by indigenous people in remote and rural areas.
From the second half of the 1960s onwards, a sector of young people in Chile started up a political
and cultural protest movement. This social current adopted as its symbol the musical trend known as
nueva cancion or cancion protesta, which is performed with the four indigenous instruments. Victor
Jara, Inti Illimani, Kollawara, and Quilapayun were the first exponents of nueva cancion. Later this
music spread to the rest of the Andean countries and became popular among students there, especially
in Bolivia and Peru, countries that were, at the time, under military regimes. At the beginning of the
1980s however, the political message of the nueva cancion was abandoned, and this music then became
commercially acceptable, as it transformed into what we now know as Andean Music.
recent development in the Andes, as in many areas of the world, is that of
"folkloric" music and dance groups that perform on stage rather than as part
of a religious or secular communal event. Beginning in 1978, around the time
that tourism to the area started to increase, local musicians and dancers
began to perform in tourist restaurants in urban centers, and folkloristic
groups in touristic taverns. Latin American folk music, played live by groups
of young middle class Mestizos alternated with recorded Western disco music.
Huayno, also spelled Huaiño or Wayno, is widely recognized as the most
representative dance of the Andes, with pre-Columbian (Quechua and Aymara)
origins fused with Western influences. While historians speculate that it may
have come from an Inca funeral dance, today it is purely festive. A circle of
dancing couples surrounds the musicians, whose instruments may be flutes,
drums, harps, and guitars. Couples dancing the huayno perform sharp turns,
hops, and tap-like zapateos to keep time.
Huayno music is played on quena, charango, harp, and violin, however, there
are dozens of regional variations, some of which involve marching bands, trumpets,
saxophones and accordions. The musical structure stems from a pentatonic scale
(scale of five notes) with a binary rhythm, (2/4 time). This structure has made
this genre the basis of a series of hybrid rhythms, running from huayno to Andean rock.
Suri Siquris is a dance that dates back to 800 BC. The name comes from the
great headdress made of feathers from the suri or ñandu (American ostrich)
and the dance is done in relation to the harvest. The musicians who play the siqus and
dance are known as Siquris. The siqus has 17 canes, and comes in four sizes.
They are played in sets of two, in interlocking melody and rhythm. The men
dress in beautiful Alpaca ponchos with color tassels called wichiwichi, and
the women dress in beautiful party skirts.