Coordinated dance steps are an unusual part of the Oruro Carnival.
Two of the core historical elements kept alive in today’s are music and dancing. Large marching bands and traditional instruments accompany most of the groups, making the parade a loud and festive spectacle. Perhaps most importantly, the groups do not just march down their route. They dance continuously in celebration of Tiw, sometimes with traditional Bolivian dance steps and other times in choreographed routines, such as when the Archangel Michael leads his army of diablesas through a gateway of fire with high and fast steps.
LED lights accentuate a diablesa in the 2017 Oruro Carnival.
However, the Carnival of Oruro has evolved some modern elements. During the nighttime part of the parades, many groups now illuminate their masks and sometimes costumes with LED lights, creating a striking and colorful spectacle. Another element, popular not just in Oruro but the Carnival of La Paz and other towns, are “foam wars.” Onlookers in the crowd typically buy spray foam, a kind of soap-like chemical in a pressurized can, and sneak attack passersby and each other throughout the Carnival. Parade groups themselves are off-limits in Oruro, but in between parade groups, children sometimes descend into the parade route and wage foamy war on each other.
Attending the Carnival in Oruro is both difficult and costly, but for those who succeed, the reward is a cultural experience so impressive that it sets a standard few other parades can ever meet.