The Diablos Danzantes de San Francisco de Yare are perhaps the most famous of the devil dances in Venezuela. Located just south of the capital city, Caracas, the town of Yare explodes during this Corpus Christi event with hundreds of thousands of visitors, tourists, and several hundred dancers and their families. Women dance alongside men, and dress the same with entirely red capes, pants and shirts and elaborate multi-colored masks with giant horns varying in number according to the rank of the dancer by years of señority.

The dance is highly structured. Capataces, perreros, eslavos and diablitos mark the levels of rank. The Capataz wears four horns, the second capataz three, and the other devils (esclavos and diablitos) wear two horns. The cofradia of the devil dances is one of the most organized in the country. Many volunteers and two full time staff people operate a cultural center and museum space that houses the cofradia. Cofradia members organize national encuentros of devil dancers, creating networks, conferences and events throughout the country and regionally.

Masks take the form of fantastic monsters and animals. They are made of wood, mud, plaster and paper maché, usually with a wire structure. Several mask-makers have transformed the traditional masks from a simple form based on the half of a coconut shell to that of a fine art now exhibited in galleries around the world for their bright and detailed painting over large, complicated and grotesque shapes. In the mid-1900s the shapes were almost always the form of a pig. Today, however, masks have transformed to include cows, bulls and those inspired by dragons. Each dancer wears small devotional objects such as palm leaves in the form of a cross and a rosario hung from their necks.

During the procession, which fills the town of Yare with the color red from one block to the next, dancers move together in a tightly packed crowd through the streets.

2011 Devils of the Americas. Some rights reserved.

 

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