Paraguayan Dances

The Paraguayan Polka (polka). Styles and choreographic variations
It’s danced in pairs by linking arms; the pairs can unlock momentarily during the dance, for a toreo o to make figures.
The Paraguayan polka is danced, in ballrooms and on the village dance floors, or under the shades of the houses, in the country; more there than in the cities. There was an era in which it was considered to expulse the polka of the ballrooms, just like the guaranies from the city. But the feeling of the village people was stronger, the immense spiritual force of our music and of our dances, conquered the snobbism of some.
There are several ways of dancing the Paraguayan polka. The variations are in the form or style in the choreography o figures in which it is used in the dance.

The way or style to dance:

1. Polca syryry o corrida, deslizada: it is danced in a straight line dragging the feet, with the legs almost rigid. This form of dancing is not performed anymore.
2. Polca popó: jeroky popó: jumping dance or polka. It is danced giving small jumps, accompanied with the rhythm; it is danced with faster and joyful music.
3. Polca jekutú o clavada: It is danced marking the step, rhythm in the place, with no displacement or with very little. The three movements are marked like this: the first is a step forward accompanied with the inclination of the body towards the front; in the second movement is marked with the pace in the place itself; in the third you go step backward that was advanced in the first;
4. Polca valseada: It is danced with a light and swift balance of the body, like the waltz.


The Chopi: It’s also called Santa Fé or cielito Santa Fé or cielito chopi. The origins of these names are unknown. The Chopi is a kind of bird, Cacierus Chrysopterus and Acptus, chopi, bird of elegant conduct, of black feathers on the body, and yellow and red feathers on the chest.
It’s the dance with the most appreciated grouping and danced in Paraguay; it’s a tournament of grace, agility and gracefulness, which fills a party with enthusiasm and uproar.
It has its own music. Formerly, the chopi and the Santa Fe had different music, the chopi was faster and the Santa Fe was slower. It was believed that there were two versions of the Chopi and the Santa Fe. It is danced with typical costumes, in three pairs, with one of the boys acting as the director, for the voices of command when they switch figures. The initial part of the dance is to be front to front, in a distance of three to four meters (according to the size of the place), to one of the sides two boys and a girl in the middle, in the front two girls and a boy in the center.

La galopa. The dance of the galoperas

We refer to the galopa as music, a fast polka, very vivid and happy, that is danced in link pairs, like the polka.
The galopa serves to dance the dance of the galoperas, also called danza de las raidas poti, because it is danced by the galoperas, dressed up women to the raida poti (that dresses up poorly, humble, with no luxury, but clean). The feast of the galopa is the manifestation o pagan component in popular feasts or patrons they have, also, the religious component, and that comes from the Colonia.
It’s a feast that is done especially in the days of San Blas, Patron of Paraguay (February 3), of the Virgin of Caacupe (December 8), of San Lorenzo (August 10), of the Virgin of Rosario (October 3), and on the day of the Virgin of the Mercedes (September 24).
Galopa is a dance only for girls, of all ages, individual, although many participate, with not fit choreography, moving with the hands on the dress, the figures can be improvised (enlaces, cadenas, toreos): the basic movement is the advancement with rotation or turn of the body from one side to the other.
The galoperas have a jar with water or any drink in it on their heads, balanced with grace and equilibrium. In this dance, promeseras intervene to dance to pay their promises made to the Saint or the holy patron, while they dance or when they finish dancing, they offer the audience what they have in the jar.

The dance of the jars

It might be one of the recent dances, there is no bibliographic reference, y it possibly originated from the dance of the galoperas.
A dance exclusively for women, it can be danced individual collective, although many can dance it. There is reference that it was also danced in pairs.
They have the same motives as the dance of the galoperas (popular feast y feast for the patrons), the costume is the same, of the raida poti, and on the head a bottle, always well balanced despite the variations of the figures in the choreography; the bottle is decorated putting flowers in the bottle, or ribbons of different colors with the three colors of our flag (red, white, and blue).
Since it has no proper music it was dance with any polka or galopa; today it is danced with the song “galopera” of Mauricio Cardozo Ocampo. It doesn’t have a fit choreography, but the ones who dance it do it with funny movements of the arms, swinging of the skirt and do diverse choreographic figures, like spins, toreo, tapping.

Source: Gonzalez Torres, Dionisio M. “Danzas Paraguayas.” Folklore Del Paraguay. Editora Litocolor SRL: Asunción,1995.


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