By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza
Also written "choique pürún" or "choique purrún", this is a form of traditional dance in which performers mimic the choike’s or Patagonian ostrich movements. It is displayed on ceremonial occasions, mostly during the rogatives or ngillatun.
The dance consists of five dancers with their faces, hands and legs painted in blue and dressed only with the chiripá (a poncho folded to fit as a diaper) tied to their waist, a blanket or poncho draped loosely over their shoulders and arms and a feathered headband. They run with fast, short steps around the rewe (the altar around which people huddle for the ngillatun ceremony) before starting to dance. While dancing, they shake their heads back and forth and sideways mimicking the choike’s movements when he stands still and looks alert. At the same time they grab the ends of the blanket that slung over their shoulders and raise their arms up and down to resemble the motion of birds, while their feet mark time with jumps, sometimes strong, sometimes light and quiet, and their bodies lean sideways.
The choike pürrün is one of the best known Mapuche dances among the wingka (non-Mapuche people) and has been adapted, stylized and even distorted by folkloric groups and dance companies, wingka and Mapuche alike. Fortunately, it remains being performed in its original spirit both in many places in Chile and Argentina.