9 junio, 2024

25 Typical Dances of Chile (North, Central and South Zone)

The typical Chilean dances They are folkloric expressions with religious-festive or recreational motivations that developed during the process of formation of the Chilean nation. The typical Chilean dances and dances are grouped by zones; these are the northern, central and southern zones.

Among the typical Chilean dances, the cueca (which is the national dance of Chile), the pequén, the pericón, the mazamorra, the sombrerito, the cachimbo, the pericona and the torito stand out. Other typical dances are the huachitorito, the rin, the sajuriana, the trote, the costillar, the porteña and the trastrasera, among others.

Through these popular demonstrations the national identity is expressed. Before the Colony, the typical dances were the Mapuche ancestral dances. During the Colony and in the 19th century, Spanish dances such as fandangos and seguidillas gained popularity, which were later adapted to Creole folklore.

This is how the so-called “land dances” were created, which were performed by the lower classes of the population and which were distinguished from ballroom dances, such as the minuet and contradanzas. Likewise, the Argentine zamba was popularized, which became the refalosa zamba.

Subsequently, in the nascent Chilean republic, a process of cultural miscegenation took place through which indigenous dances from the Andes were incorporated and adapted. Later, in the 20th century, other dances were incorporated into national folklore, such as the corrido and the Colombian cumbias.


The cueca, the national dance

It is the national dance of Chile; therefore, it is popular and has been danced in all regions of the country since 1824. Each region performs the cueca with some of its own variations and is accompanied by a joyous sung melody played on the guitar and harp. On September 18, 1979, it was declared the national dance of Chile.

During the dance, the huaso (a man from the central or southern part of the country) looks for the young woman he likes and offers her his arm. Then she gets up and walks him around the room. Then they face each other, holding a handkerchief, and begin to dance.

Suddenly the huaso turns insinuatingly and chases the woman, who flees from him. To catch her he uses the handkerchief as a lasso, with which he surrounds her but without touching her, bringing her to her side.

It is danced with measured and slow steps while the handkerchiefs are gently waving and tracing circular figures that include turns and half turns. The dance is interrupted with various types of flourishes.

The woman approaches the huaso haughtily and coquettishly, lifts her skirt slightly with one hand and gracefully waves the handkerchief with the other, fleeing again.

Origin and types of cueca

There is no agreement about the origin of this dance, although it seems to have African, Spanish and indigenous influence. There are several types or modalities of this dance, the best known are the following:

northern cueca
Chilota cueca.
Stolen cueca.
Long cueca.
Creole cueca.
cueca porteña
Peasant cueca.
Cueca waltzed.
comic cueca

Typical dances of the northern zone

The dances and dances of this area are characterized by their religious and festive nature. They can be observed during the celebration of traditional festivals.

This is the case of the Fiesta de la Tirana, the Fiesta de la Cruz, Ash Wednesday, the Limpia de Canales and the Fiesta de los Muertos.

The carnival

It is a dance from Bolivia, but it is danced throughout the northern area of ​​Chile and Argentina during Carnival and other festivities. This dance is executed with a musical genre called huaino, for which musical instruments such as the bass drum and the quena are used.

It is danced in a group with the participation of many couples, who carry out colorful and happy choreographies, whose most outstanding figures are: the bridge, the streets and the wings.


It is a dance of a festive nature that is danced in couples and using handkerchiefs. It has a great similarity with the cueca, because turns are also made to the rhythm of the music.

Pursue the same goal of loving conquest. The lady remains aloof and flirtatious and the young man strives to woo her. The music is performed with guitar and accordion.

The bull

It is danced during the religious festival of San Pedro (June 29). It is a group dance in which two men dressed in black and white, respectively, dance in the center wearing a large bull mask.

Both pretend to gore each other, while the other participants surround them singing, clapping and dancing at the same time. The dance continues until the man in black falls.

northern cueca

It differs from the cueca of the central area because it does not have lyrics and only has a melody. This dance is accompanied by instruments such as the bass drum, the box, the trumpet and the tuba. It is also a happy dance that is danced in pairs.

the huachitorito

It is a typical dance of the Christmas season, in which instruments such as quena, violins, guitar, bass drum, snare drum and accordions are used for its execution. Several couples take part in the dance, formed in lines of two or in circles, which surround the couple that dances in the center.

This danced Christmas carol is staged while the Christmas shepherds visit Christmas cribs in different houses. The man imitates a bull while the woman fights him with a red scarf. The dance is led by a foreman who rings a bell.

the trot

Its name comes from the fact that the dancing couple is doing a kind of trot. They move forward and backward rhythmically holding hands and turning in different directions.

The dance is accompanied by music from the guitar, quena, box, panpipe and bass drum. A very colorful clothing is used, predominantly made of vicuña or alpaca wool.

Typical dances of the downtown area

the sajurian

This dance is also known by the name of sajuria and secudiana, and is danced in Ñuble, in the eighth region. The music that accompanies this dance as a couple has a copla and a refrain.

The dancers dance separately while happily waving their handkerchiefs up and down and improvising movements. She is danced stomping her feet and brushing the floor to a rhythm similar to that of the cueca.

the dungeon

The choreography of this dance represents two hawks surrounding a dove. The origin and meaning of the dance is not known for sure.

The dancers execute graceful and incessant movements while trying to win the love of a woman. This mazamorreo in the dance was perhaps what gave him his name.

the little one

It is danced in various ways, depending on the area where the dance takes place. In the central zone the peasant equén is danced and in Chiloé the pequén gañán is danced; both are similar in terms of steps and movements.

In this area this dance is performed between Colchagua and Ñuble. The dancers dance imitating the flight of the pequen, a variety of field bird.

The dance begins with the man choosing a dance partner. Then follows a ritual of conquest of the man and the flirtation of his partner.

the little hat

This traditional Chilean dance is practiced from La Serena to Concepción. It consists of a dance in which the dancers, wearing hats, briefly intertwine their arms.

To begin the dance, the hat is taken with the right hand and then different movements are made: turns and semicircular displacements.

During the chorus the hat is placed on the floor in front of the dancers, then they perform a figure eight. Then they raise their hats again and take steps rhythmically.

the porteña

In this dance, whose melody is part of the cueca family, the man dances with only one type of step, making small jumps. He does crossovers alternating his legs while the woman gently brushes her feet.

Typical dances of the southern zone

refalosa zamba

It is a festive dance that is performed with a scarf and with a partner, but both are free. The choreography takes place with the couple facing each other; each executes a simultaneous turn with a planing step, first to the right and then to the left. The dancers spiral to the left and then return to the place of origin.

Both greet each other, while the man holds the handkerchief in his hand and the woman holds it with both hands, crossed over her skirt.

Then comes a stomp with the handkerchief held to the side with the left hand, and a shake is performed in the same previous position. This sequence is repeated throughout the dance.

the rack of ribs

It is a very popular dance at Creole parties and celebrations because competitions are held, which arouses greater enthusiasm.

It is generally performed only by men, although sometimes it is danced in pairs. This dance represents the Chillán area; For its execution, a bottle is placed in the center of the dance floor.

The performers must jump, dance and stomp around the bottle. Whoever knocks over the bottle loses and must pay penance, «throw a pledge» or withdraw from the dance.

the chair

This is a dance of Spanish origin that is also popular on the island of Chiloé. The two dancing couples face each other, forming a square. It is executed with several movements that include twists and changes of position diagonally, alternated with stomping on the spot. Usually the dancers wear a scarf.

the rhine

It is a dance originating in Europe that arrived on the island of Chiloé in the 19th century. Its name comes from the English word reel (reel).

It consists of a dance of two couples «in room» that dance loosely and are directed by a cane player (now this has changed). The man has his partner on the right side.

The dance begins on that side, but it can be varied using the left hand, taking a turn with the partner and returning to the position.

Then a braid is made, also with the right hand. The queen turns in the stall while the knights pass each other as they move towards the queen of the other pair, without touching.

Later, the ladies take their walk and are accompanied by the gentlemen, who tap their feet to the rhythm of the music.

the pericona

This typical dance of the Chilota festivities is very popular on the island of Chiloé. In general, four people participate in this dance, who perform a brush while turning six times from right to left.

the back

This other dance is said to be originally from the Island of Chiloé. It is a simple dance that can be danced as a couple or in large groups.

The woman shyly follows the man, holding his hand, as they both enter the dance floor. Two lines of couples are then formed, one facing the other.

The steps consist of a fixed trot in three beats; on the fourth, the couples raise one knee. Then they jog again for another three counts and raise the other knee.


It is a couple dance with a marked Spanish influence in terms of posture and some turns that the dancers give. There are several versions of this dance, one of them even mentions Spain and the fiesta brava.

The ship

This is a collective Chilota dance that is performed successively by all the participants. Movements are made that imitate the oscillating movement of a boat when sailing, a characteristic of the life of the inhabitants of the island.


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