Folkloric Dances

The folk dance that is most characteristic and representative of the isthmus' traditions is undoubtedly the tamborito. Each region has put their own spin on this Spanish-influenced dance, but it is most associated with the province of Los Santos.

In the province of Darién, the typical dance is callled bunde, accompanied by drumming and female voices. Men and women gather on opposite sides of a circle, and the dance begins when a man flirtatiously invites a woman to dance with him. Each couple then takes their turn to dance in the center of the circle.

Another dance that highlights the percussion instrument, el tamborito, is the cumbia. Two local versions, the cumbia santeña and cumbia chorrerana, are very colorful and expressed with joyous movements.

The congo, of Afro-Caribbean origin, is danced along the Atlantic coast. As in bunde, a couple dances in the center of the group to the beating of drums and singing of women.

Other dances practiced in Panama include:

  • El baile del Torito Guapo
  • La Espina
  • El Punto
  • La Mejorana
  • El Atravesao
  • El Bullerengue

The Dance of the Clean Little Devils is the most traditional dance of the Corpus Christi festival. The Lead Devil, one of the principal characters, wears an extravagant costume to illustrate his rank at the top of various hierarchies.

The Dance of the Dirty Little Devils is radically different from the clean one. This dance is so named because, prior to the decade of the 1930's, the devil's outfit was a pair of drill coveralls smeared with red lines made of achiote and red mud. The black lines were drawn on with a burnt corncob. When the costumed devil character came out to dance, the red and black lines got soiled with sweat, creating a very unattractive or dirty appearance.

Such costumes are also available to rent for photo shoots.