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Chile’s National Dance: The Cueca


The national dance of Chile is called the Cueca. This dance has rich historical roots in both African and Native American cultures. Even though Chileans have been dancing the Cueca for years, it wasn’t declared the official dance of Chile until September, 1979.

The Cueca is a parody of the courtship of a chicken and rooster. The dancers wave handkerchiefs above their heads during the dance. These handkerchiefs can symbolize the feathers of the bird or the rooster’s comb.

Children dancing the Cueca
Children dance the Cueca. Picture by Gabriel Ortega Berger.

The choreography (movements) of the Cueca consists of circles, moving in semicircles back and forth (known as half moons), and turning towards the partner and then away.

The dance happens in an imaginary circle, with the man in one half, and the woman in the other. 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.

Movements and Steps of the Cueca

You can learn the steps of the dance from the following pages. These are in Spanish but have diagrams outlining the movements:

Clothing

Those that really know how to dance the Cueca will dress up in traditional chilean clothing when they dance. This is particularly true during the independence day celebrations every September. The men wear a Chilean cowboy hat, shirt, flannel poncho, riding pants, short jacket, riding boots, and spurs. Women wear a flowered dress with an apron. Here is a video of a school’s Cueca competition that shows the traditional clothing the dancers wear:

Dancing Around the World

To celebrate Chile’s independence, many Chileans will dance the Cueca even though they are far from home. Here is a video of some Chileans dancing the Cueca in Norway:

The Cueca Brava

There are many variations of the Cueca. A very modern and urban form is called the Cueca Brava. In the following video you can see that it has a very different style from the more traditional one shown previously:

Posted August 24th, 2007 in Culture.

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29 Comments

  1. Jennifer said:

    Querido Pepe
    Fue un placer haber encontrado esta página y disfrutar leyendo tu explicación de cómo bailar la cueca…
    Te felicito por el amor que expresas en esta página y al igual que toda esa gente que te demostró su amor, yo también tuve la oportunidad de expresarlo a otros elderes que conocí un par de años atrás.
    Felicidades Joseph y God blesses you every day.

    January 28, 2008

  2. Pepe said:

    Jennifer,

    Muchas gracias por visitarme y tus comentarios. Pude aprender unos pasos de la cueca pero me falta mucho todavia para bailar como se ven en los videos.

    January 30, 2008

  3. Jaquavous Swift said:

    a what is the dance steps and the clothing because i need to know because i doing a reprot on the chile famous dance

    February 14, 2008

  4. Pepe said:

    Jaquavous,

    You can see steps to the Cueca here:

    Cueca instructions

    Learning to dance our national dance

    February 14, 2008

  5. Monica said:

    Hola..Okay so I am doing a reaport on the Cueca dance and I need to know what kind of music is played to this dance. Could someone leave a note saying where I could look it up. Gracias.

    February 26, 2008

  6. Luis Astudillo said:

    Gracias por esta pagina me es y sera util porque estamos preparando unos chicos para bailar cueca en la escuela de mis hijos como chileno que soy quiero que se respete al maximo nuestra tradicion

    March 7, 2008

  7. Carmen Whitaker said:

    I need to Know the steps because i am making a report on cueca for my homework assignment.

    April 16, 2008

  8. Tierra Huasa said:

    Felicitaciones, le agregamos un enlace en Tierrahuasa.com

    April 17, 2008

  9. ponch said:

    this website helped out a lot for a report i’m doing in spanish class…..ponch out!

    October 17, 2008

  10. Nattalimberluvsmichael said:

    Can u please put the steps in english for meh please i need to do a school project on it! :)

    December 11, 2008

  11. Anita said:

    Hi please help, need to learn how to dance la cueca your first two links are not available have studied the diagrams but would really appreciate if u know where a video instruction on the step by step.
    keep up the great work, Viva Chile!

    December 31, 2008

  12. Pepe said:

    Anita,

    I fixed the broken links.

    You may want to try searching youtube.com for cueca videos as there a lot there in both English and Spanish

    January 4, 2009

  13. Anita said:

    Hi and Thanks, much appreciated! Your instructions are great on your web page I have seen a lot of the Cueca on the utube videos they are good but I was looking for an instructional one like step by step any ideas where to find one? I really want to learn and master how to dance Cueca! my saying is “I may have la piel de un gringa pero corazón de un latína!” Thanks again and keep up the great job your doing.wait to hear from you Anita
    “lagringita”

    January 14, 2009

  14. Soraya said:

    Hi,

    I’m looking for the Chilean Huasa Black dress with hat. I live in Canada. Do you know where I can order one.

    February 1, 2009

  15. Abiii said:

    woooww esto estotalmente divertido mese todos los bailes i crreo ke chile tiene una gran cultura entretenidaaa :) manado saludos aaa mis amigoos de chile q los amoo ♥

    June 11, 2009

  16. Crystal said:

    HI
    Thank you for the info! It was very helpful!

    September 20, 2009

  17. Bookworm said:

    I’m doing a report on Chile, and I need a dance that originated in Chile. This page says the cueca has African and Native American roots, and I was wondering if anyone knows about a dance that originated in Chile. Thank you!

    November 17, 2009

  18. John said:

    Im doing a report on this about chiles national dance the cueca, and its history of the modern president and the capital of chile please respond asap

    November 22, 2009

  19. thomas said:

    hi i need to know what tipe of music that this dance uses… i an doin a report for school

    January 6, 2010

  20. jennifer said:

    does anyone know any original composers of the cueca?

    May 5, 2010

  21. stephanie said:

    Im chilen and all and im doing a project on the whole history of chile. well not entirely but to teach students about my country, such a pain. lol alot of research and this web helped alot. haha. Gracias.
    just wana say the cueca is such a neat dance! like it looks fun to learn and watch, i wana wear those poofy dresses~! XD

    May 26, 2010

  22. mulan said:

    please send me these pictures so i can use them for a chile project

    May 27, 2010

  23. mulan said:

    the project for a fair thank u nd ur dances and pictures are realy kewt

    May 27, 2010

  24. WINX said:

    ..hi, can anyone send me some musics used for chile dances or the cueca…?,,,,i really need it…im doing a report for school, im from Philippines….thanks

    July 9, 2010

  25. jesse said:

    this dance is awesome

    August 28, 2011

  26. kate said:

    i need to learn the dance! muy importante!

    September 23, 2011

  27. Valerie said:

    Hi – I need to purchase a cueca dress for my little daughter, who is representing Chile in her school Christmas play. We live in Los Angeles, does anybody know where we could get one?

    Thank you!

    November 23, 2011

  28. lulu poopoo said:

    this is the good website It taugt me how to dance this dance

    March 23, 2012

  29. the rjklhfdgk said:

    i need to know more about Chile

    November 26, 2013

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