By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza
The waka waka (waka-waka, waca waca, from Aymara waka, "bovine") is an Andean satirical dance that originally mocked the bull fights held by the Spaniards during the colonial period, in which indigenous people were not allowed to take part. It is believed to have been first celebrated in Ilabaya (province of Larecaja, department of La Paz) towards 1562.
The rhythm which works as framework for the dance is also known as waka waka. It sounds like a lively march. In traditional contexts it is usually played on waka pinkillos and bombos wank'ara or cajas (drums), though the place of these instruments has recently been taken either by brass bands or ensembles featuring guitars, charangos and quenas (notched flutes).
As time went by, the dance was given a complementary meaning which relates to agricultural and livestock activities. On the one hand, it was the bull (or the ox) which pulled the plough to convert cleared areas into arable acres. On the other, cattle represented an important economic factor in some areas of the Bolivian Andes.
One of the many distinguishing characteristics that today define waka waka dance is the waka or bovine (which represents alike the bull, the cow and the ox): dancers disguised as bulls are covered with a dried hide profusely adorned with ribbons, pompoms and small mirrors and crowned with two horns. Other characters are the bullfighter (q'aisilla), through whom Spanish bullfight is mocked; the milkmaids or "damas Manolas" (ladies Manolas), carrying a small jar; the shepherdesses, easily recognized by their chicote (whip); and there are also a number of borrowings from other Aymara dances such as the k'usillos or buffoons and the jilaqata or director, the leader of the dancers.
This dance is also known as waka thoqori (in Aymara, "bovine dancers", which refers to the dancers in waka disguise), or even as waka tinti or waka tinki (from Aymara waka tinkti, "size up against the bull").
Article. "Waka Thokori", in Pueblo Indio [es].