Cueca around the world

Multicultural performance troupe masters Chilean folk dances

This team loves the traditional dances of Chile - but it’s members are from Afghanistan, the Philippines, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

Monday, September 03, 2012 Category: Daily life - Culture
Chile’s national dance, the cueca, is performed at Folklorama. Photo: Folklorama / Twitter Chile’s national dance, the cueca, is performed at Folklorama. Photo: Folklorama / Twitter

Anyone can enjoy performing Chile’s national dance, the cueca - but you don’t need to take our word for it!


Just ask the members of the Canadian dance troupe who performed at Folklorama in Winnipeg last week. While they love the traditional dances of Chile, the group’s members are from Afghanistan, the Philippines, Guatemala, and El Salvador.


These “honorary Chileans” have mastered the cueca, Chile’s national dance, as well as other South American dances like the zapateo. The cueca is an especially popular dance during Chile’s national independence celebrations in September, and is said to represent the elaborate and seductive courtship ritual between a rooster and hen.


The “honorary Chileans” were encouraged to join the troupe by a pair of Chilean sisters whom they met in high school. The girls needed more men to pair up with to perform Chile’s traditional dances.


"We didn't have any boys," Daniela Ulloya-Juarez, one of the group’s leaders, told the Winnipeg Free Press.


For Ares Sharifzadah, who came to Winnipeg from Afghanistan, taking up Chilean dance surprised his family, but he enjoys the pastime.


"I just thought it might be fun," Sharifzadah told the Winnipeg Free Press. "At first, they were like, 'Really?'”


The troupe was featured at Folklorama, a two-week multicultural festival in Winnipeg that brings in over 420,000 visitors. Folklorama’s “Chile Lindo” pavilion also featured a dance troupe of professional Chilean dancers: the Arcoiris folk dancers.


The Arcoiris troupe was happy to see so many non-Chileans perfecting their Chilean dance moves, according to the Winnipeg Free Press.


"They were pretty excited," said Ulloya-Juarez. "It makes us proud to get others involved."


It’s easy to learn Chile’s traditional dances thanks to the internet. The Winnipeg troup says they have no formal coach.


“YouTube is our teacher," said Ulloya-Juarez.


So what are you waiting for! Get your cueca ready for Chile’s fiestas patrias with this video.

img_banner