The word Minka comes from the Bolivian language Aymaran, and means: ‘community labour’. Originally the Dutch dance group started in 1995 as “Carporales de Bolivia” and was composed of several male and female dancers from Bolivian, Peruvian, Venezuelan and Dutch nationalities.
The main focus was to demonstrate and attend shows and festivals in order to promote the folkloristic ancient and rich Bolivian culture to the Dutch people. One of Bolivia Minka early members Mr. Albertico, himself born in the Dutch Antilles, runs the public relations department within Holland.
A year later, April 1996, the name of the group was changed into Bolivia Minka. Currently the group consists of 13 adult’s performers, and sometimes assisted by Belgium members. The history of Caporales dates back from the 1970s when a group of young dancers formed a group and decided to split from the more traditional Saya and Tundiqui dance form. Bolivia Minka has several Dance styles in its repertoire: they are Los Caporales, La Cullawada, Tinku, Los Tobas, La Diablada and La Cueca.
One of the highlights is the La Diablada> which is a devil dance. The original diabla dancers were Bolivian miners from the town of Oruro. It portrays the bears, Andean Condors, Angels and the Devil himself. The brightly colored costumes are very beautiful and scary at the same time. Every diablada dancer has to make a pledge to the virgin Maria to dance at least 3 years for her.
La Cueca is a dance for two, which reenact the courting ritual of a rooster and a hen. The male displays a quite enthusiastic and at times even aggressive attitude while attempting to court the female, who is elusive, defensive and demure. In Bolivia there are lots of different Cueca styles according to the region. The Cueca styles of La Paz, Potosí and Sucre are the elegant versions, whereas in Cochabamba and Tarija the style is much livelier.
La Cullawada, a ritual dance of the spinners. Symbol in this dance is a spin stick carried in the hands of the dancers.
The folkloric dance Los Tobas speaks of the ancient past of Bolivia. It has roots from a time when the Incas were the predominant force in the Andean highlands. Tobas is an athletic dance comprising agile steps accentuated with many jumps and bounds and where the dancers make offerings to the gods. The Tobas were a tribe of warriors who lived in the Chaco region of Bolivia. The dance and music of the Tobas has been reinterpreted by the people of Bolivia like the Aymara and the Mestizos.
The Tinku> dance is a representation of an Andean tradition where a battle between two groups is simulated. This Festive Tinku is a dance that carries a warlike rhythm. The Tinku is always present in the major festivals and parades of Bolivia. The dance movements are exhaustive, at times the dance position is bent down at the waist, and the arm and hand gestures provoke fighting just as the ritual of their origin.
Early February 1996 Bolivia Minka won its first prize at the Mokum Carnaval in Amsterdam. That year many demonstrations and gigs were done and one of the highlights being the Purmerend Antillean summer carnival. The following year Bolivia Minka won 3rd prize at the Rotterdam street carnival. During 1999 Bolivia Minka embarked in a 6 weeks tour through the best theatres in Holland & Belgium.
Michael Prophet January 2009