By Yolanda Salazar
La Paz, Sep 11 (EFE).- Bolivian children showed off their best moves and costumes of the morenada in a parade in La Paz on Sunday as part of the activities held this week to reclaim this Andean folk dance.
Around eight dance ensembles prepared to be part of this parade organized by the La Paz mayor’s office, which began on Mariscal Santa Cruz Avenue and traveled about two blocks to enter the regional fair, La Feria Cultural de Mil Colores, on Sunday.
The boys wore colorful morenos’ costumes embroidered with sequins and pearls, as well as masks with huge feathers that moved from one side to the other to the slow and rhythmic pace of this dance, which evokes the plight of African slaves who were brought to the country during the colonial era.
Meanwhile, the girls were dressed in china morena costumes of indigenous women known as cholas from La Paz who have their hair styled in two braids and wear a bowler hat, blouse, a multifold skirt and an aguayo blanket.
The girls swung their skirts to the music that accompanied the tour, while sounding their rattles.
Many of the children waved the national flag as a way of reclaiming this folk dance that was declared by Unesco an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Bolivia, which celebrated the “National Day of the Morenada” this week through a series of events that culminated on Sunday with the folk parade.
“I feel happy dancing the morenada,” said 10-year-old Jadiel Martinez, who decided this year to participate in the parade and perform the dance in front of an audience for the first time.
“We have concluded the week of the morenada with a flourish because we have had a parade with invited lineups, approximately 200 children who have delighted us with this very representative dance,” the head of the mayor’s office’s support unit for creative economies and cultural promotion, Daphne Mostajo, told EFE.
Mostajo added that the aim of closing out all the activities with this parade was to spread awareness about Bolivian dances among children so that they do not let this dance disappear or be forgotten in the future.
Among the week’s activities was a conversation about the origin of the dance, exhibitions of masks and typical costumes, and band recitals.
The cultures ministry also organized activities on Sep. 7 – the National Day of the Morenada Dance – such as a performance, and the exhibition of the costumes made by the most representative embroiderers to ensure that the dance was “100 percent Bolivian.”
The morenada is one of the iconic dances of colorful Bolivian celebrations, including the Carnival of Oruro and the feast of the Lord Jesus of Great Power, both included in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
In 2014, Bolivia passed a law declaring Sep. 7 as the dance’s national day in recognition of the composer and researcher José “El Jach’a” Flores, who composed some of the most famous Bolivian morenadas.
In 2021, Peru’s Ministry of Cultures declared the morenada as the cultural heritage of its city of Puno, which triggered anger from La Paz and led it to organize several activities to assert that this dance originated in Bolivia. EFE