Dance Genre Buzz : Caporales

 Dance Parade’s Dance Education Series

Dance Genre Buzz:

The Traditional Bolivian Dance, Caporales

Caporales is a traditional Bolivian dance originating in the Department of La Paz, Bolivia; it was created and presented to the public for the first time in 1969 by the Estrada brothers, who were inspired in the Afro-Bolivian Saya character of the Caporal, a dance that belongs to the region of the Yungas, Bolivia.[1]

One interesting aspect of all folkloric dance, during the Carnival Festivities of Oruro including Caporales, is the tribute to the Virgin of Socavón (patroness of miners) where dancers religiously promise the Virgin to dance for three years of one’s life.

Caporal or caporales today is a typical Bolivian folkloric dance very popular in national festivities, Carnaval in particular. There are many groups in the US that present these dances, such as Alma Boliviana, San Simon USA de Virginia and many others.  View a Videodance by Alma Boliviana below.

A male caporal’s costume depicts an old Spanish military guard; wearing heeled boots bearing large bells known as “cascabeles”, a male dancer carries a hat in his left hand and a whip in his right hand (sometimes).

Even some girls will dance in a male role; some may refer to them as “chinas” or “machas”.

A female caporal dress consists of a minidress, fancy high-heeled shoes, and a round top hat pinned to her hair.

The style and colors of the dress are maintained the same for both the men and women of a certain group, but can vary drastically between groups.

Men and women usually dance separately in a progressive march style dance.  Caporales is an energetic, radiant and colorful dance that requires good physical condition.

The dance is often mistaken for the Afro-Bolivian Saya, a confusion partly due to popular Caporales song texts like the ones composed by the popular Bolivian group “Los Kjarkas”; this group makes many Bolivian songs. Also this is due to an international ballet version of Saya Caporal being danced as “Modern Saya” (see Afro-Bolivian Saya).

However, there is a connection with the Saya: when the Caporales dance was created in the late 1960s by the Estrada Pacheco family, they claimed to have been inspired by the performance of some Afro-Bolivian dancers from the Yungas region.

First the dance didn’t have a proper music – the dancers adapted Huayños and Kullawadas before the first Caporales songs were composed. The rhythm is different from the Saya as well as the whole dance, which gradually became one of the most popular dances in Bolivia.

Enjoy this VIDEODANCE showcasing the traditional Bolivian dance, Caporales.

Genre Buzz Source: Excerpts from Wikipedia

More about Dance Genre Buzz:

Each month, a new dance style is celebrated. View videos and learn about the heritage and history of different dance styles. Discover innovators of the dance, trends, variations, and current events for each dance genre featured. Watch artistic videodances featuring dance styles, and learn more about Dance made for the Camera.

Participate in Dance Genre Buzz:

Help Dance Parade New York and Video Dance TV support the dance community. Share information on each dance style we feature, including dance classes, events, competitions, and other productions, such as film and video productions. Teachers, participants, and enthusiasts are welcome to share their network and experience with our audience to support dance education, online and on the dance floor!

By, Dawn Paap

View more Dance Films on Video Dance TV 

5 Responses to “Dance Genre Buzz : Caporales”

  1. Thanks for spreading the dance of caporales information, we just want to make a correction on your post.
    “There are many groups in the US that present these dances, such as Alma Boliviana, San Simon USA de Virginia and many others”

    The caporales group link of San Simon USA is not right, its a different group name they are called San Simon Universitarios and they arent even in the Dance Parade.

    San Simon USA web page link:
    official web page under construction.


  2. Hate to break it to ya, but most Bolivian women are UGGGLLLYYY. These women aren’t too hot, either!

  3. nlp singapore…

    […]Dance Genre Buzz : Caporales « STEPS! the official blog of Dance Parade New York[…]…

  4. @Nikki Hate to break it to YOU, but these women are very pretty. You must be blind and I doubt you have seen most Bolivian women. Have you been to Bolivia?

  5. I never Knew about the dance of Caporales. It is a marvellous encounter I made while searching for information on Latin America Music and Dance. It is such a pleasure to watch this dance full of life, color, grace, charm and vigour. Your site is as vibrant… Thanks !

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