Baile Chino

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Inscribed in 2014 (9.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes, 2013

Bailes Chinos are brotherhoods of musicians who express their faith through music, dance and singing in the context of commemoration festivities. The practice stretches mainly from the area known as the Norte Chico to the central region of Chile and comprises five fully differentiated styles, each named after the valley or basin where it is most prevalent. Organized mainly by men from rural areas, Baile Chino dances consist of jumps and flexing movements of the legs, performed to the rhythm of isometric instrumental music played on drums and flutes of pre-Columbian origin. The leader sings memorized or improvised rhyming couplets in stanzas that recount holy stories and address religious subjects. He is accompanied by an equal number of musicians and dancers organized in two symmetric columns. A drummer leads the choreography and controls the tempo of the music. Each group also has a flag bearer and guards, who are usually women. The music, dances and couplets are learnt through direct observation, imitation and transmission in the family. Bailes Chinos are a tool for social participation providing prestige to those involved. They function as a model for social integration and cohesion to which almost the entire local community subscribes, out of a sense of identity and solidarity.

Charles Reyes, "chino puntero" of Cay Cay's Baile Chino, during the Petorquita fiesta's procession
"Chino Puntero" of Cay Cay's Baile Chino during the Petorquita fiesta's procession
Puchuncavl's Baile Chino while performing their traditional choreographic movements during the Petorquita fiesta's procession.
Founded in 1585, Baile Chino N 1 Barrera dances in the Andacollo fiesta. 2009
428 years old, Baile Chino N 1 Barrera playing the flutes strongly within their temple in Andacollo, thereby counteracting the sound of "heavy-instruments" religious dances
Cay Cay's Baile Chino jumping during the Pachacamita fiesta.
Baile Chino N 6 La Cantera, Coquimbo, executing dance steps in front of the Virgin of Andacollo. With the flute, Leonel Muñoz, second chief and singer, with the flags, Jorge Araya, Jaime Rojas and Patricio Rojas
Every December 27th, "Bailes Chinos" N 1 Barrera and N 8 Andacollino gather to transfer the Virgin from the Basilica to the Old Temple, Andacollo. From left to right: Meregildo Ramos, Quintin Marin, Mario Martinez, Gustavo Ossandon, Juan Leon y Hugo Pasten
Frank Alvarez, chief of Baile Chino N 5 San Isidro de La Pampa, La Serena, singing to the Virgin of Andacollo during his presentation
Luis Bolados, standard-bearer and chief of Baile Chino N 3 El Molle from the Elqui River Valley, indicates the rhythmic and choregraphic changes with the movement of his flag during his presentation to the Virgin of Andacollo.