Dances of Argentina - Traditional Argentinian Dances
Argentina is known all around the world for their innovative, impulsive,
intimate and passionate tango dance, but this large and diverse country is
also home of the incredible variety of other traditional dances that are
fueled by the beats of several kinds of native Argentine music.
The best known of these dances are native (derived from the music, dances,
ceremonies and celebration dances that were present in South America at the
time of the arrival of European immigrants) and modern folk dances (which
were developed over centuries of development of this large nation).
The development of Argentine music has played a large role in the formation
of the modern folk dances that are today practiced in all regions of this
country. Here are the most notable dances today practiced in Argentina:
Argentina is the country of dance
The Argentine regions of Altiplano and Puna are known for the development
of the traditional South American dance that is today practiced in numerous
religious festivities. Since its early development, this dance went through
changes that had made it into a mix of the Spanish colonial culture and the
indigenous cultures of South America who had practiced this dance long
before European settlers arrived at the shores of this country. Instruments
that most commonly follow this dance are native instruments such as quena,
siku, and the bombo. The music is very cheerful, quick,
and multiple partners (arranged in groups or rows) follow the beat of the
music with smiles. A leader of the row or a dance group (male or female)
usually holds a handkerchief or ribbons in one of its hands.
Today, Carnavalito public dances are commonly practiced in the northern
regions of Argentina, most notably in regions of Salta and Jujuy), as well
as in some western parts of Bolivia.
Chacarera is a type of folk music dance that originated in the northern
region of Argentina, more precisely from the province of Santiago del
Estero. Since its origin, it was always closely connected with the popular
tango and is viewed in Argentina as the rural and traditional counterpart
to the cosmopolitan and internationally accepted version of the modern
The core component of the Chacarera is the dance routine differences
between male and female dance pairs. In this dance, females stay stationary for prolonged periods of time,
while male performers circle around them. Music of
Chacarera can be played by both traditional and contemporary bands or
soloists, with the most common instruments being guitar, violin, bombo
drum, and voice.
Chacarera is also famous for the flamboyant clothing style
it requires - traditional Argentine flouncy dresses with
wide skirts for women, and wide-legged pants, thick belts, and hats for men.
Chamamé is a traditional folk dance which originated from the northeast
regions of Argentina and Southern parts of Brazil (such as regions of Santa
Catarina, Paraná, Mato Grosso do Sul, and the Rio Grande do Sul). The
birthplace of the dance can be traced to the Yapeyú Corrientes, which is
regarded as one of the centers of the musical culture that birthed Chamamé
under the encouragement of Jesuits who promoted cultural growth until the
late 18th century. The modern version of this dance received influences from immigrants of several European countries, most
notably Germany and Poland. Today’s Chamamé is a mix of
native, Spanish, German and Polish influences.
The term Chamamé was first used in the early 1930s, and the earliest
recordings of this dance can be traced to early years of 20th century.
Chamamé is most commonly danced with music played by Spanish guitar,
violin, and accordion.
Cuarteto is a famous folk dance and a musical genre which originated from
the Cordoba region in Argentina. The dance was originally created in the
1940s under influences of Spanish and Italian immigrants who brought with
themselves various European musical styles that they mixed with the native
music of Argentina. The result of this mix is an upbeat and cheerful music that is similar in rhythm to the
modern Dominican merengue. The peak of its popularity was in the 1970s and
80s when this musical style was viewed as the Cordoban local alternative to
the musical culture of Buenos Aires.
Its name comes from the tendency of this music to be played by quartets -
four-piece bands that were most commonly made out of the piano, violin,
accordion, and bass.
The most famous Cuarteto artists are Cuarteto Leo band, Carlos Mona
Jiménez, Tru-la-lá band, Rodrigo and Walter Olmos.
Cueca is a folk dance that is practiced in Argentina, but this dance is
also famous in Bolivia and Chile (where this dance is also adopted as the
country’s national dance). The origin of this dance is not precisely known,
but it is presumed it came as the result of the mix of indigenous and
European Spanish musical styles, with the largest contributors being the
zamacueca dance of Peru and Spanish Fandango dancing. From Peru, this dance
moved to Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina where it continued to evolve to its
Most commonly, Cueca is danced using white, red or black costumes and dresses fashioned in the
style of Chilean national clothes. In Argentina, this dance is most
commonly danced in the region of Cuyo, which is located near the border
with Chile, but it is also practiced in provinces such as Mendoza, Jujuy,
Chaco, Salta, La Rioja and Catamarca. However, in Argentine country cueca
is danced in several variations, including changes in music style, clothing
and the way of dancing.
6. Cumbia villera
Cumbia villera is the subgenre of cumbia music that is famous entire Latin
America. It originated in the slums Argentina to be the voice of lower and
marginal classes, often centering on the themes of life in rough
environments. The music style of Cumbia villera mixes the influences of Colombian and Peruvian cumbia with
many other musical genres, such as the
gangsta rap, punk rock, tango, reggaeton, Argentine folklore, protest
The lyrical themes of cumbia villera are often centered on
everyday life in
rough environments, slums, poverty, misery, use of drugs, violent
clashes, anti-police themes, night lifestyle, football culture
, the authenticity of being a lifelong member of the marginalized social
class, antipathy toward politicians and more.
Gato is a very interesting variation of the musical style of chacarera, but
with the notable different interpretation of its rhythm and dancing
routines. This popular folk dance incorporates structure in which lyrics
are often very humorous, and the performers have the
freedom too often pause the music and dance routine toimprovise some scene, often to create a heightened sense of comedy.
The name of this dance is taken from the Spanish word of “gato” which means
Murga is a popular carnival and musical theatre dancing style that is
popular in countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, and Spain. The core
requirement of this dance is a group that consists of usual up to 17
performers, which are usually men. The dancing and singing routines that
dancer group prepare for carnival performance can last up to 45 minutes
, and they consist of unique dancing moves, suite of songs (with opening
and closing songs being the most important), and prepared recitative speech
lyrics. Performances of Murga are usually done on carnival grounds or
community stages (also known as tablados in Montevideo in Uruguay).
The Murga group of performers usually consists of chorus members, three
percussionists and the performance can have up to five vocal parts.
Percussion instruments are usually drums of the bombo, redoblante and
platillos varieties. Clothing of Murga dancers is highly elaborate and jester-like.
Pukllay (also known as phukllay, pucllay, pugllay, phujllay, pujhllay,
pujllay and puqhllay) is traditional folk dance and festival held in the
region of central Andes. The name of this dance is derived from the Quechua
word that signifies “play", "to play" or "carnival". In traditional times,
this dance and celebration festival was organized to signify the
end of the raining season and the beginning of the harvesting season
, but in the modern times it has become connected to the celebration of the arrival of Christianity, and the
celebration of the battle won over Spaniards. One of the centralclothing motives of this folk dance is the Spanish helmets and spurs.
Although this dance is popular in some parts of Argentina, it is practiced
much more in Bolivia where its Pukllay festival in Tarabuco has been
nominated by UNESCO for World Heritage cultural mark of this region of the
Zamba is a national folk dance of Argentina, promotion core values of many
Argentine music and folk dance traditions. Although it has some
similarities to Samba, this dance differs from it in several musical,
rhythmic and temperamental ways. Dancers of Zamba must master different
kind of steps, dance routines and costume wearing, making it similar in
some ways to cueca.
Men and female pairs who dance Zamba are required tocircle one around another while using elegant moves to wave white handkerchiefs. The music of Zamba can be of
many genres, which is the reason why this dance has become so popular in
all regions of the large Argentinian country. Many regional versions of
Zamba are promoting the local musical and fashion styles, often promoting
the beauty of both the region and the women in it. There is even variation
of Zambas that are intended to be danced to provide the statement of a political protest.
Zamba is today dancers regularly across Argentina at social gatherings,
folklore parties, festivals and national holidays.