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     Land of winds > Rhythms and styles > Dance | Issue 19 (May.-Jun. 2014)
    By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza

Rueda chapaca


Rueda chapaca

The rueda chapaca ("rueda" meaning "circle") is a traditional dance style performed in the department of Tarija (south of Bolivia), which is guided by the tonadas played on various instruments. As happens with the tonadas themselves, the different types of rueda chapaca are associated with a particular time of the year, though all of them share a number of characteristics.

The choreography is simple and easy to follow: it starts with a row of male-female dancers holding hands and moving forward. Then, this "serpent" becomes a circle that goes round in both directions. Dancers stamp their feet on the ground and keep their hands held; they keep their arms low as they move with short steps, and keep them high with long steps. They will let go of their hands to form pairs and hold them back to form a new a circle.

The "rueda de la caña" (danced to the music of the huge natural horn known as "caña tarijeña", during the dry/winter season, from Carnival to All Saints' Day) is a very lively and cheerful dance with small jumps (also known as "brinco de la caña", "brinco" meaning "jump"). However, the liveliest and most agile of them all is the "rueda del violín", also known as "zapateo de Pascua" ("zapateo" meaning "foot-stamping"), performed during the celebration of the "Pascua florida" festival on Easter Sunday.

Male dancers wear white linen shirt, grey flannel trousers, waist coat, ojotas (a type of sandals) or small boots, colourful sash, knife, dark red poncho, silk kerchief and wide brim hat. While female dancers wear their hair in two braids adorned with ribbons, and dress in a bright light coloured short pleated skirt, underskirt, loose embroidered blouse, ojotas or short patent-leather boots, hat, and silk mantle embroidered with flowers.


Article. "Rueda chapaca", in Historia, costumbres, folklore y cultura boliviana [es].
Article. "La rueda chapaca, danza forjada con la invasión española", in Tarija Bolivia [es].


Video 01. Rueda de la kamacheña.
Video 02. Rueda del erque 01.
Video 03. Rueda del erque 02.
Video 04. Rueda (brinco) de la caña 01.
Video 05. Rueda (brinco) de la caña 02.
Video 06. Rueda (zapateo) de la Pascua 01.
Video 07. Rueda (zapateo) de la Pascua 02.


Picture A.


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