Elaborate costumes color the streets of Oruro

World Today

Women perform in the traditional “Morenada” dance during Carnival, in Oruro, Bolivia, Saturday, March 2, 2019. The unique festival features spectacular folk dances, extravagant costumes, beautiful crafts, lively music, and up to 20 hours of continuous partying with lots of tourists, drawing crowds of up people annually. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Bolivia’s Carnival celebrations are well underway as colorful costumes dance through the streets all night long. CGTN’s Joel Richards reports.

Carnival celebrations ran well into the night in Oruro on Saturday, for dancers and revelers alike, as the groups marched through the city in their traditional dress.

A group dance, the Morenada, pays tribute to black slaves brought to this mining city centuries ago. Their masks depict anguish the rattles evoke the sound of ankle shackles.

Several groups danced the Morenada at thecarnival, each with a distinctive style.

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For the past year, Elvis Flores worked to make more than 300 of these costumes for one of the Morenada groups. It took more than 60 people in all to complete the order.

“There is no machine that can help us, all this work that you can see is made by hand.” Flores said.

Besides designing the costumes, Flores also dances with the group.

“It makes you cry, seeing the effort and work of so many people. For people this is a great economic and material and human effort, you can’t imagine how satisfying it is to dance,” Flores said.

Another dancer, Reina has travelled from La Paz to dance in the carnival for the first time. She is with the Caporales as part of the dance troupe, Los Huari. Her costume evokes an old legend.

“We used to have rattles, which represented rebellion against the masters, but now it is a more modern design,” Reina said.

The costumes evolve but remain loaded with symbolism. Of all the dances, the Diablada is one of the most famous.

“What characterizes the devil is the mask which represent the seven deadly sins,” said Edgar Rios, an Artisan and Dancer. “Then there is the chest piece which is sewn, it is a shield that protects our soul from the devil. We have the skirt with five parts representing the five-point star. Then there are boots, gloves and the cape on the back which are related to the seven sins.”

There are more than 60 artisans in this city. The costumes made by Elvis are for the Central Cocani Morenada groups, founded in 1924. And for dancers and designers alike, it is their devotion to the patron, the virgin, that drives their art and keeps this carnival growing every year.

It is the costumes and devotion that give this carnival its energy. And it’s that energy that’s helped make this one of Latin America’s famed carnivals. Organizers said over 300,000 made it to the mining city, with many more expected in the coming days to see this stunning display.