Cultural Corner: Colombian Dances

Cultural Corner: Colombian Dances

Colombia is a country with a long and varied musical history. The types of music and dance vary by region and have been influenced by Colombia’s unique history of pre-European indigenous cultures, the conquest by Spain in the early 1500s and the subsequent introduction of African slaves to the territory. Luckily, many of these traditional dances still exist and are often performed during national festivals and other celebrations. The dances are accompanied by traditional colorful clothing and singing and musical instruments.

Colombia can be divided into five natural regions: the Andean mountains, the Pacific coast, the Caribbean coast, the Amazon rainforest and the plains or llanos. These regions have come to play a key role in the development of the various dance and music styles of Colombia.While many people around the world are familiar with famous Colombian pop artists such as Shakira and reggaeton stars such as Maluma, the traditional dances such as cumbia are also popular abroad.

Perhaps the most popular folkloric dance is Cumbia. This dance dates back to the colonial period and is particularly popular on the Caribbean coast. Cumbia is accompanied by music that is played on drums, flutes and other percussion instruments. It has its roots in both the African and indigenous ancestry of this region. While dancing, the women wear long colorful skirts and they make a circle around the men who are also in traditional outfits including a sombrero which they take on and off during the dance. The men’s clothing often features a white ranch style outfit with a red scarf and the dance is often performed barefoot. 

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