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Cueca is the national dance of Chile, where it was officially selected on September 18, 1979.


While its origins are not clearly defined, it is considered to have Spanish and African influences, among others. The most widespread version of its origins relates it with the zamacueca which arose in Peru as a variation of Spanish Fandango dancing with criollo and African influences. The dance is then thought to have passed to Chile and Bolivia, where its name was shortened and where it continued to evolve. Due to the dance's popularity in the region, the Peruvian evolution of the zamacueca was nicknamed "la chilena", "the Chilean", due to similarities between the dances. Later, after the Pacific War, the term marinera, in honor of Peru's naval combatants was used in place of "la chilena." The Marinera, Zamba (artform) and the Cueca have different styles that distinct them from each other and their "root" which is the zamacueca.

Another theory is that Cueca originated in the early 19th century bordels of South America, as a pas de deux facilitating partner finding.

The cueca was used as a form of protest by women whose husbands or sons had disappeared during the Pinochet years.


The usual interpretation of this courting dance is zoomorphic: it tries to reenact the courting ritual of a rooster and a hen. The male displays a quite enthusiastic and at times even aggressive attitude while attempting to court the female, who is elusive, defensive and demure.

Some differences can be noticed depending on geographical location. There are two distinct variants in addition to the traditional cueca:

The northern cueca: The main difference with this version is that there is no singing in the accompanying music which is played with only trumpets, tubas, and drums. Also, both the music and the dance are slower.

The Chiloe cueca (or "cueca chilota"): The main difference is that the steps are shorter and that the singer has a more important role than the instruments.


Currently, the cueca is mainly danced in the countryside, and performed throughout Chile each year during the national holidays in September. Dancing competitions of cueca are popular around that time of year.

In Bolivia there are lots of different Cueca styles according to the region: Cueca Pacena, Cueca Cochabambina, Cueca Chuquisaquena, Cueca Tarijena, Cueca Potosina y Cueca Chaquena. What they have in common is their rhythm in three, but they differ quite a lot in velocity, costumes and style. The Cueca styles of La Paz, Potosi and Sucre are the elegant ones, whereas in Cochabamba and Tarija the style is much more lively.

See also



Demonstration of Bolivian cueca (and other folk dances specific to the Gran Chaco region) on Youtube

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Cueca

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