Photo Montage: Comite Pro Bolivia Concurso de Tinkus 2015

Northern Virginia is home to several thousand native Bolivians. It is a tight knit community whose members strive to keep the traditions and culture of their homeland alive and sharing those values with others while making the United States their home. Spearheading that drive is the Comite Pro Bolivia (CPB) a non-profit organization which has been promoting Bolivian culture in our community for nearly 30 years.

Last Sunday at George Mason University, CPB held a competition -Concurso de Tinkus- between nine of the area’s several tradition folkloric dance groups. In the end, Tinkus Tiataco emerged as the winning group.

Tinkus is one of many traditional dances originating in Bolivia. Wikipedia provides this description of the Tinkus dance:

“Tinku, a Bolivian Aymara tradition, began as a form of ritualistic combat. In the language of Aymara it means “physical attack.”[1] During this ritual, men and women from different communities will meet and begin the festivities by dancing. The women will then form circles and begin chanting while the men proceed to fight each other; rarely the women will join in the fighting as well. Large tinkus are held in Potosí during the first few weeks of May.

The story behind this cultural dance is that long ago, the Spanish conquistadors made the indigenous people their slaves. Tinku dance costumes are colorful and decorative. Women wear a dress, abarcas, and a hat and men wear an undershirt, pants, jacket, sandals (abarcas), and hard helmet like hats. Even though the people were slaves, they loved to dance, and would often fight, but never really hurting each other.

Because of the rhythmic way the men throw their fists at each other, and because they stand in a crouched stance going in circles around each other, a dance was formed. This dance, the Festive Tinku, simulates the traditional combat, bearing a warlike rhythm.[1] The differences between the Andean tradition and the dance are the costumes, the role of women, and the fact that the dancers do not actually fight each other. The Festive Tinku has become a cultural dance for all of Bolivia, although it originated in Potosí.”

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