Featured Image Caption: Caribbean Dances
This hot zone was influenced by the Africans and the Spanish and overflows its extravagance and joy in its extensive territory, from the Guajira Peninsula to the Gulf of Urabá. The dances of this region are: la cumbia, el bullerengue, la puya, el mapalé, el fandango, el garabato, and el cumbion.
Today, you can find some dance tours where you can learn and enjoy those dances.
The word cumbia comes from the word cumbe of African origin. The theme of this dance is the black man’s fight for the indigenous woman’s love, and the woman dresses in a colorful pollera (long skirt) and carries candles in her right hand, while the man dances gently next to her. The woman supports the soles of her feet, slides smoothly with gentle movements, and has the bust and head up. The man lifts the heel of his right foot and firmly plants the whole sole of his left foot, approaching the woman without touching her, and then distancing himself from her candles. Cumbia is also considered a popular dance in many other Latin American cultures and is often taught as part of dance camps and classes around the world.
This is a dance performed exclusively by women, which highlights the greater realism of the African ancestry through the percussion of drums, clapping, and choral singing characteristic of its performance. It seems to have arisen as a cultural reaction within a ceremonial context of the Maroon communities, probably in the Palenque de San Basilio extending through other regions of the Caribbean coast where the Afro-Colombian population was significant. Basically, it is a ritual dance performed at the special time when young women reach puberty. The bullerengue symbolizes feminine fertility, although it is not discounted that in colonial times it may have also had funeral connotations.
Over time the dance became a type of street party, danced by a mixed couple. Little literature exists about the time when the dances of African origin ceased to be ritual expressions and became profane dances.
This is a street dance known in the departments of Cesar and Magdalena since 1885 as a regional expression of a festive mood, with moderate and rhythmic hip movement. It is danced with loose couples. Both the men’s and women’s attitudes are lively.
Mapalé is a Caribbean coast dance of marked African descent. It is also the name of a fish and a drum. It is said that this dance was born as a song and dance of fishermen’s work that was performed accompanied by drums as evening entertainment upon finishing their workday. Observing it today, everything indicates that it was transformed from a work-related activity to an erotic ecstasy. The form in which it is danced today differs from what is narrated by historians.
The origin of the fandango dates back to the coexistence in the 16th and 17th centuries of the pre-Columbian, Spanish, and African cultures; it is curious to note that the word fandango is the fruit of not only Andalusian roots but also African (“fundanga”) and indigenous roots, of the Náhuatl and the Quechua. In Colombia, it has the greatest presence on the Atlantic coast. It is a popular street dance and refers to the act of dancing in carnivals accompanied by non-traditional wind instruments.
This dance of Spanish origin represents the struggle between good and evil, between life and death. Couples dance with large movements and are influenced by death, which is the main character. In this fight life finally wins and a celebration is performed with dance.
This is a more joyful type of cumbia with faster movements, dominant along the entire Atlantic coast. Its origin is undoubtedly African and is a core musical expression representative of Afro-Colombian culture. The costumes are attributed to the Spanish.
By Miguel Dumont
– I am a dromomaniac as I have been travelling since I am 18 years. I have travelled around more than 50 countries around the world and lived in 14 different places. Also, I am a product manager for digital companies and I have been the last 2 years working on travel solutions. You can find some dance tours where you can learn and enjoy those dances.