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Land of winds > Rhythms and styles > Dance | Issue 02. Sep.-Oct.2010
By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

K’antu

According to early sources (i.e. Oblitas Poblete, 1978), the term “k’antu” would refer to an ensemble of 20-30 dancers who move in a circle with short steps while playing the panpipe or phukuna, beating drums and striking the triangle. With the passing of time the term went on to designate the dancing ensemble, the phukuna player, the instrument and the particular melody (see).
The dance might derive from the ancient “tuaillu” dance, performed in earlier days by country people of the region of Upinuaya (Upingaya), near Charazani, which was transcribed by M. and R. d’Harcourt in 1956. This dance in turn would have been developed from the “tuakas” marches, which are supposed to have been played by the old Inca guard. Another dance that might have influenced the actual k’antu would be the chiriguanos.
The dance is quite simple: the musicians-dancers gather in a circle facing the centre. At the beginning all rotate a quarter turn to the left and start walking counter clockwise one behind the other, marking the rhythm with quick light steps. On several occasions –especially at the end of each musical phrase- all the musicians rotate 180 degrees to the left so that the formation now circles clockwise. Everything is repeated several times until finally all the performers come to a halt after rotating a quarter turn to the centre and returning to their initial position. It is also common to see women and men dancing in pairs inside and outside of the circle, facing each other and holding their hands.
At present, with the appearance of modern brass bands and the popularity reached by such rhythms as the huayno and the caporales (music you can easily dance to), the k’antu runs the risk of being lost.

Video 01. Awatiñas. K’antu.
Video 02. Qhantus from Quiabaya.
Video 03 (low quality). Qantu.
Video 04 (fragment). K’antu (modern style). Ballet Chela Urquidi. “Kantus”.
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