The Whole Picture: Chile’s Cueca

| August 14, 2011 | 2 Comments
chilescueca The Whole Picture: Chiles Cueca

Handkerchiefs held above a dancer's head symbolize feathers.

The Cueca, a unique dance form native to Chile, is credited as being the country’s national dance.  With historical roots in both African and Native American cultures, the Cueca is a parody of the courtship of a chicken and rooster. The handkerchiefs held above a dancer’s head symbolize the feathers of the bird or the rooster’s comb. The Cueca is a very complex dance, and the music is generally performed with one or two voices accompanied by guitar, piano, harp, accordion, or other instruments. Dancers move in semicircles back, turning towards the partner and then away. It starts with a promenade where the man invites the woman to join him by offering his arm. This is done while instrumental entry music is played. The couples stand facing each other about three meters apart. Before the song begins, the couple claps their hands in rhythm of the music.

Inspired by publications like Life Magazine, National Geographic and online experiences like’s photo blog, images marked as ‘The Whole Picture’  are intended to highlight high-quality, amazing imagery. Kathryn and Daniel will post ‘The Whole Picture‘ irregulary.  Like all of our photos, it is an original photo not otherwise on the site—it might be fresh from our camera, a new scan of some old film, a product of our fooling around with Photoshop, or a file from the archive that we haven’t posted yet.

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Category: Dan's Blog, Photos

About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. His latest book, The Physics of Flocking, gathers his favourite writing featured over the past two years on Two Go Round-The-World in columns like 'Looking Back' and 'The Whole Picture'—along with new reflections.

Comments (2)

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  1. Thomas says:

    I would to have seen a video of this. Love the color in this picture. My question why don’t they just use feathers?

  2. Aiko Aesop says:

    … a dance meant to reflect the courtship of a chicken and rooster. Never would have thought to create such a folklore. It is rather interesting to learn about rich cultures and their heritage.

    Thank you for sharing! :)

    More about history, cultures and how they influence our identity.

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