THE HISTORY OF QUINCEAÑERA CELEBRATIONS
The word Quinceañera is used in Hispanic culture for a 15-year-old girl celebrating her birthday. The Quinceañera’s origins date back many centuries ago to rites of passage for girls. At those times, girls of appropriate age were separated from other children to be prepared for transition into adulthood. Women of their tribe or village taught them about their upcoming roles as adult family and community members.
Originally, during rites of passage, young women pledged to serve the community, and community thanked the gods for their future wives and mothers. However, later missionaries those rites of passage into a personal affirmation of faith, and the celebration became associated with the church.
HOW IS A QUINCEAÑERA CELEBRATED?
Modern Quinceañera celebration is often a lavish affair with many guests, food, music, very similar to a wedding. Planning a Quinceañera can begin as early as childhood, and family and godparents will save money for the party until the girl reaches the age of consent. Preparation time can range from six months to two years. Dancing is a big part of the modern Quinceañera celebration!
Traditionally, one of the most popular Quinceañera dances is the Waltz (or Vals). Waltz is an elegantly choreographed dance performed by the birthday girl and her court. Often, if waltz is the first dance of the celebration, the quinceañera dances it with her father.
In addition to the Father-Daughter Dance and “surprise dance,” celebrants and guests frequently dance to Salsa, Cumbia, Cha-Cha, Merengue, Bolero, and Rumba music.
HOW MANY DANCES ARE IN A QUINCEANERA?
Traditionally, most Quinces include these three (3) traditional bailes, or dances: The Entrance Waltz (El Vals), a Surprise Dance (Baile de Sorpresa), and the Father/Mother-Daughter Dance (Baile de Mama/Papa). These Quinceañera dances must be choreographed, learned and rehearsed to be performed for guests.
The father and daughter dance is still performed at the Quinceañera today. It is still one of the most emotional aspects of the Quinceañera celebration because it represents the birthday girl’s first dance as a young woman with her father. If the father is unavailable, an older man who has served as a father figure will usually dance.
The father and daughter dance is typically a waltz, and it’s an opportunity for the father to encourage his daughter as she takes her first steps into womanhood.
The Quinceañera’s chambelan (or the birthday girl’s escort) will approach the father after the father and daughter dance and ask permission to dance with the birthday girl. The family waltz usually comes after the father and daughter dance, and it consists of the Quinceañera’s immediate relatives and closest friends dancing a group waltz. The group waltz dance is typically performed by up to twenty dancers, ten boys (chambelanes), and ten girls (the Royal Court). The dancers will typically receive at least five to ten hours of professional Quinceañera dance lessons before the party to be prepared and in sync on the day of the fiesta.
While optional, the “surprise” dance portion of the Quinceañera is often regarded as the most enjoyable part of the party planning for the birthday girl. A professional Quinceañera dance choreographer is usually hired to assist the birthday girl in creating a dance in which she will dance with her “damas” and “chambelanes.” Usually, any trendy or fun dance song is welcome.
The chosen dance genres are diverse and may include Cha-cha, cumbia, bachata and others.
Dance has always been and continues to be an important and distinguishing feature of Quinceaneras. Thus preparations must be made in advance to ensure that all parties have enough time to choreograph and learn Quinceanera dance routines. Contact us when you need quinceanera choreography!