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The cueca is a Chilean dance with its own music and words. It appeared during the first half of the nineteenth century, though there is some controversy surrounding its origin. Some say it came to Chile from Peru, bringing with it African and Caribbean influences. Other researchers argue that its origins are Arab-Andalusian. The dance was recreated in Chile and taken up in salons by the upper classes, and in bars and cafeterias by the common folk, reaching its height of popularity in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as it spread through rural and urban areas. The dance is performed by a couple, accompanied by singing and guitar playing, in a style that evokes a rooster courting a hen. The movements are performed in a semicircle, with the man attempting to win over the woman while she responds with modesty, both of them flourishing handkerchiefs. The cueca has become less popular over the past several decades, but it is still performed during Chilean national celebrations, folk-dancing performances, and radio and television programs. The cueca was declared the national dance of Chile by military decree in 1979.

See alsoMusic: Popular Music and Dancexml .


Claro Valdés, Samuel, and Carmen Peña Fuenzalida. Chilena o cueca tradicional. Santiago: Ediciones Universidad Católica de Chile, 1994.

Garrido, Pablo. Historial de la cueca. Valparaíso: Ediciones Universitarias de Valparaíso, 1979.

León Echaiz, René. Interpretación histórica del huaso chileno. Buenos Aires and Santiago: Editorial Francisco de Aguirre, 1971.

                                       Horacio GutiÉrrez