This is a typical dance that is now on trend due to its musical rhytms that are really cool, I mean, there’s something special in the melody that any song can become caporal, even Despacito by Fonsi… really. But also, there’s some kind of controversy because of its origin… As it comes from the Altiplano, Bolivians say that it’s only and just from them and that Peru has no rights when making it part of our folklore too. So, let’s take a look back to the history.
Yes, Its origin is Bolivian
During the spanish conquest, as they were very ambitious, they wanted to take all the mineral wealth from Bolivia, so that’s why they established this very cruel system called Mita (an obligatory and not-payed job made by the native indians in the mines), and then they decided to bring ñ african slaves. However, these people couldn’t handle the icy regions of the Yunga region in the Altiplano so they ran out to other lower places that had more oxygen. Anyways, it was because of their joyous attitude that the Saya dance was born, in order to relieve the suffering caused by the slavery of the black race.
One of the main characters here was the Caporal, who was a mulatto man and chief of the slaves. He is going to be the inspiration for this new dance which is the folkloric representation of him who, being unhappy with his origins, tries to control his subordinates using a whip in his hand. Also, as he imposes discipline and punishment, he’s being portrayed in the dance by the making of different acrobacies in order to resemble his force.
But the Altiplano belongs to both countries.
By that time, the border that joins Peru and Bolivia was part of the Tauhuantinsuyo, a very big empire whose biggest portion of territory was Peru. Plus, during the Colonial Conquest many different cultural dance events started to happen. And so many years later, in 1975, a folk group from Bolivia named “Urus del Gran Poder” participated in the Inti Raymi Feast in Cusco, so the dance was more popularized.
The essence of the dance
Now, two characters are fusioned. By one side we have the man caporal acting like the chief of the slaves and farms, jumping along with the rythm of the song and not letting go his whip, as a symbol of his authority. Then, for the other side we have the woman saya who would be a representation of the african woman who worked also at farms, but suddenly and with the time, changed the tone of her skin as well as her clothes which became more luxurious, indicating her rising to an upper socio economical level.
There is also another modern character added, which is the machita, and it’s about women who play the man’s role wearing the same clothes and even doing the same acrobacies. Now, in every performance they are practically the most applauded.
Finally, another detail is that flirtation is the key for this. As the woman are dressed with tiny skirts, braids and heels then the steps are also delicated, and the smile must be permanent.
Few weeks ago I had a performance regarding this beautiful dance, you can take a a look here 🙂
Alright, so this was a summary of this very beautiful dance that I will continue to dance until the end of times, just wanted to clear some things up.. Peru and Bolivia are very similar regarding their folklore, so that makes us family ♡.