The Diablada or Dance de Diablos (English: Dance of the Devils), is a primival, typical Andean masked dance. It is the main dance of the Carnaval de Oruro held in honor of the Virgin of Socavón Oruro in Oruro, Bolivia. It is characterized by the mask and devil suit wore by the dancers. Unlike other similar expressions of the Andes, it is considered to retain most of the artistic expression coming from pre-Columbian America. The dance is a mixture of the Spaniard’s theatrical presentations and Andean religious ceremonies such as the Llama llama dance in honour of the Uru god Tiw (their protector in mines, lakes, and rivers).
The origins and sense of patrimonial identity of this dance is a matter of dispute between authorities and historians of Peru, Bolivia and Chile. While Peruvian and Chilean authorities claim that the dance is proper of tripartite regional identity, Bolivia’s former Culture Minister Pablo Groux claims that the dance should solely be considered Bolivian.
In its original form, the dance was performed to accompany a band of Sikuris, which were a group of musicians playing the Siku. Nowadays, the Diablada in the Altiplano is accompanied by band and orchestra. The uniformity of the suits brought choreographic innovation, with the layout of steps, movements, and figure designs that are not only ready to be staged in open areas such as roads, streets, and public squares; but also in places such as theaters and arenas. At the start of the krewe are Lucifer and Satan with several China Supay, or devil women. They are followed by the personified seven deadly sins of pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. Afterwards, a troop of devils come out. They are all led by Saint Michael, with a blouse, short skirt, sword, and shield.
During the dance, angels and demons are constantly moving around while forming somewhat complex figures such as crosses and circles. This confrontation between the two sides is eclipsed when Saint Michael appears, battles, and defeats the Devil. Both characters are dressed in heavy costumes that are highly ornate and finely wrought. The weight of the costume is more of a challenge than an obstacle for the different dance groups. The dancers often attempt to make unique and complex choreographies. The result is a colourful dance, creating a show very much appreciated by the public.