August 6th was Bolivia’s independence day, and it was a month-long celebration of cultural parades and festivals.
One of those dance companies came to our little town’s Bolivia Heritage Day celebration and soccer tournament, and although it was only a fraction of their full troupe, they showed the colour of the dance. Plus, they had the youngest and cutest dancer!
Isn’t she lovely?
Each year the people of Oruro put on the largest cultural event in Bolivia. La Morenada (Dance of the Black Slaves) is one of the most popular Bolivian Andes Highland dances. There are a number of theories about the origins of the dance. The most common is that it was inspired by the treatment and suffering of African slaves brought to Bolivia to work in the silver mines of Potosí.
The heavy and expensive outfit represents the wealth of the owner of the slaves.
The enormous tongue of the dark masks is meant to represent the physical state of these mines workers.
The rattling of the matracas are frequently associated with the rattling of the slaves’ chains.
Morenada Señorial New Jersey was founded on March 20, 2012. Their vision is to promote the Bolivian culture and unite families through Bolivian dance. Their premise is to represent and promote their passion for morenada and to take it to its highest level.
In its short existence, they have obtained the first prize for being the best group participating in the Bolivian Parade in Jersey City, NJ, and performed for the first time in the biggest Bolivian Festival held in Manassas, Virginia at the end of August. For more on the troupe, go to http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2012/08/jersey_city_celebrates_bolivia.html.
I like it that the young are taught their cultural heritage from a young age, specially since they are far from their native land. Perhaps it is because that I am also far from my homeland that I am drawn to cultural celebrations, such as these. I know that for those born here in the USA, it is easy to forget one’s roots and origins, bombarded as we are with the media and the lifestyle here.
Thanks to Luz Tarquino for providing information on their dance group.