Name: Tierra Espiritual
Location: Copusquia - Bolivia - Latin America

Tierra Espiritual is a theatre, dance and music project in the community of Copusquia in Bolivia where ancient indigenous traditions regain meaning for young and old. Bolivia has more than 400 kinds of wind instruments that are used in various ways during rituals related to the agricultural calendar. The elders of Copusquia are guided in sharing with the youth ancient music and dance traditions, adapted to a contemporary form. For this, we work together with the schools and the village leaders.

In the world, forests disappear and seas are over fished. In addition, rich cultural traditions are pressured by modernization and are lead astray by the convenience of Coca Cola and prefabricated products. A strong pressure on the indigenous culture and forms of expression in the highlands of Bolivia has existed for ages. The cultural erosion has increased greatly in recent years because young people, in search of work and wealth, move to the city.

Since 2007, Theatre Embassy and AsocYati work together with the Copusquia community to keep the dance, song and music traditions alive in the Aymara community. Roberto Callisaya, from the music group Yatiyaña, Berith Danse and Andrea Montenegro travelled in 2007 to the highlands and gave the first stimulus to the three-year project Tierra Espiritual.

In the three years, cultural coordinators from ten different villages in Copusquia give after school dance and music lessons. In addition, we organize each year, but always at a different time in the year, a festivity that is related to an important moment in the agricultural calendar. In this way, we bring in an alternative educational manner a piece of the rich traditions and knowledge to the young people. Furthermore, this project can be a source of inspiration for many other indigenous communities in this culturally rich country. We work together with the government of the department La Paz and the Vice Ministry of Culture in order to accomplish this.

Roberto Callisaya, project initiator:
"We don't use our instruments and music solely for entertainment. The music and the dances have ritual meanings and are performed in our agricultural cycle to please the gods.The knowledge and customs are under pressure from developments and modernization and rapidly disappearing. Together with the Theatre Embassy, we want to make a start with a change in this development of cultural degradation in Bolivia. In this way, we want to bring children back in contact with the power of their own culture, so that they have the freedom to choose between traditional and modern."


Photography: Berith Danse & Andrea Montenegro