Dances in Peru
:: THE MARINERA
This dance is a spin-off from the zamacueca and the mozamala. In 1893, Abelardo Gamarra “El Tunante” dubbed the dance the “Marinera”, in homage to Peru’s naval hero Admiral Miguel Grau, during a piano concert performed by a Lima maiden who was to become a major exponent of the genre, Rosa Mercedes Ayarza de Morales. This encounter gave birth to Peru’s best-known marinera, called “La Decana” later rebaptized “La Concheperla”.The marinera has steadily gained a foothold in the country’s culture. In 1938, the genre was presented at the Independence Day concert at Lima’s Teatro Municipal. Today, there are marinera festivals held all over the country, although the best-known is held in January in Trujillo. The dance is performed in several styles, depending on its place of origin: marinera costeña (the south coast), marinera serrana (the highlands) and marinera norteña (the north). The dance is energetic, with elegant movements and a highly complex choreography of coordinated and synchronized sequences. The couple keeps time with a handkerchief clutched in one hand, which is also part of the courting ritual, even though the couple never comes into physical contact. Instruments used to perform the marinera limeña include the guitar and Cajón, a box-shaped drum, while a full-blown marching band accompanies the Marinera Norteña.
:: THE HUAYNO
Held to be the most representative dance of the Andes, its pre-colombian origins blended early on with Western influences, spreading into dozens of regional variations. Its musical structure stems from a pentatonic scale with a binary rhythm, a structural characteristic which has made this genre the basis of a series of hybrid rhythms, running from huayno to Andean rock. The dance is performed by couples who perform turns and movements featuring hops and a tap-like zapateo to mark time. Instruments used to accompany the huayno include the quena, charango, harp and violin. Some variations of the huayno involve marching bands which have added trumpets, saxophones and accordions. At the same time, although they are different genres in popular thinking, huayno is closer to the marinera than it appears, judging by this refrain from a marinera serrana: “There’s no marinera without huayno / nor huayno without marinera /little Indian girl in the green skirt/the third part of this song is for you”.
:: THE VALS CRIOLLO
This dance has its participants holding hands in a half-embrace, performing intertwined steps in a style recreated by Lima inhabitants from the Viennese waltzes. The Creole variation originated in the nineteenth century and spread to the urban middle class as a synthesis of the romantic nostalgia of the criollo class in Lima. Instruments used to accompany the dance include the guitar and the cajon.
:: THE SIKURI
The martial rhythm of the dance of the sikuris originated in the southern highland plain known as the altiplano. It is danced in large groups, forming troupes who join together in large circles around musicians playing zampoña pan-pipes of varying sizes. The choreography of the dance is symbolic of the complementary nature and harmonious relationship that human integration should involve, as one group of flautists can only play half the notes, which means the other group is indispensable to complete the melody.
:: THE FESTEJO
This is a popular dance along the central coast. It is performed by couples, both insinuating and at the same time avoiding physical contact.
The dance movements, both joyful and teasing, give off a corporal expression redolent with sensuality. Backing instruments include guitar, cajón and the quijada, plus a lead vocalist and backing singers.
:: SCISSORS DANCERS:
PHYSICAL DEXTERITY AND RITUAL CHALLENGE
The Danza de las Tijeras or scissors dance, is basically seen as a major manifestation of art and physical dexterity from a western viewpoint, while on the other hand Andean folk or mestizo people who live in highland communities see it as a complex ritual.
The danzaq, or dancers, are shrouded in mystery. In a show of force and elasticity, these men put their dexterity to the test with a series of gymnastic leaps to the strains of harp and violin. Priests in colonial times claimed the dancers had made a pact with the Devil, because of the surprising feats they performed. These fakir-like stunts, called atipanakuy, include sword-swallowing, sticking pins through their facial skin, eating insects, toads and snakes. The main instruments played to accompany the dance is the pair of scissors, made up of two independent sheets of metal around 25 cm long and which together take the shape of a round-blades scissors. The dance is performed at its best in Ayacucho, Apurimac. Arequipa, the Ica highlands, Huancavelica and Lima.