24 junio, 2024

12 Dances of the Sierra del Perú and their Characteristics

The dances and dances of the mountains of Peru They are representative of Peruvian culture in the world and vary according to the region of the Andes where they occur. These dances derive mainly from the Quechua tradition and are danced to the sound of the quena, the charango and the panpipe.

Music in Peru is located at the center of culture; Peruvians see music and dance as something to participate in and not just watch. Some of the most important traditional festivals in the country revolve around them.

It is common to find that many people can play musical instruments or sing. Along with music, dance plays an important role in preserving the traditions of culture.

The dances of the highlands of Peru are characterized by being a little slower and given to the sound of higher tones than those that take place in the coastal zone. These dances are called Andean, since the Peruvian sierra is the area that is located on the Andean mountain range.

The most distinctive sounds of Peru are those of the sierra. Each of these rhythms is accompanied by a type of dance that varies depending on the region of the mountains where it is located. In this way, the dances in Ancash to the north can be very different from those in the Mantaro Valley, Cuzco, Puno, Ayacucho and Parinacochas.

The main dances of the Peruvian highlands

The Peruvian sierra is immensely rich in music and dance, with more than 200 different types of dance. Each village has its own fiesta, and each fiesta has its own communal and religious dances. Comparsas are usually organized with groups of dancers to the delight of the spectators.

Each dance follows a set of movements according to the type of music that accompanies it. Also, a special typical costume is worn based on the long tradition and history of the region. The dances of the sierra have their origin in specific circumstances and contexts, many of them still today make parodies of the Spanish colonizers.

Many couple or group dances are danced spontaneously during the festivities of the Peruvian highlands. These include indigenous dances influenced by the Spanish tradition.

Some of the most common dances of the Peruvian highlands include the Huayno, which is danced between numerous couples who turn as they descend into the street during the festivities.

1- Dance of the scissors

After the Spanish conquest, the Inca priests were rejected and relegated. The Spanish ordered the natives to call their priests sons of the devil.

This indication was not well received by the Incas and the Spanish had to accept the priests again and let them participate in their Catholic rituals, forcing them to dance the traditional dances of Spain (minués, contradanza and jota).

The Inca priests learned the steps of the Spanish and their dances, in the same way, they saw how new songs were played on violins and harps. It was in this way that the scissors dancers appeared during the 16th century.

Each dancer must hold a pair of scissors in their hands, while the percussion sounds to mark the steps. It is believed that the use of scissors is due to the fact that the ancient Inca dancers were exploited in the mines by the Spanish, thus the idea of ​​taking a pair of scissors in each hand to dance arose.

In the Peruvian highlands, this dance takes place from April to December and is celebrated in each of the festivities of the Andean towns.

2- Huayno

The Huayno songs are sung in Quechua, for this reason this dance is considered one of the most authentic in the Peruvian highlands. The Huayno appeared in the year 1586 and since then it has passed from generation to generation as part of the Inca tradition.

Huayñacuni music was traditionally danced by the indigenous people in a clandestine way. The term «Huayñucuni» translates to «dance with a partner with arms folded» in this way and under colonial power, this dance rarely took place in public spaces and in full view.

The Huayno is the Andean dance from which the other dances of the Peruvian highlands start. For this reason, it is danced during all Peruvian festivities and is characterized by its happy steps.

In the southern zone of the mountains this dance is a little slower, however in the central region of the Andes it is lively, but its songs have sad lyrics.

3- Sara Kutipay

The Sara Kutipay is one of the few dances that reflects the community spirit of Peruvian descendants of the Incas. It is a theatrical representation of the Peruvian peasants while they work the land. It is danced mainly in Awacucho and its name translates as «corn cultivation».

Sara Kutipay reflects the spirit of Ayni, the community work that took place under the command of the Incas. The Incas had three basic principles: hard work, discipline, and community.

For this reason, it is believed that the Sara Kutipay is the dance of solidarity, where peasants and their wives must dance in a choreographic manner for eight acts. The main act of this dance recreates the work of the land and the cultivation of the soil in a sequential and coordinated manner.

4- The devil

The diablada is considered the bastion of Puno’s cultural heritage. It is a dance that shows the most exotic costumes among all the dances of Peru. It is performed by wearing flashy and fascinating devil costumes and masks.

This type of dance flourished in the Chilean, Bolivian and Peruvian altiplano. Each country has its own version of the dance. In the case of Peru, the diablada appeared in Puno in the year 1576, when the Aymaran myth of Supay (the devil) became popular in the region, indicating that he wandered around at night looking for men who would venerate him and punishing those who despise them.

Legend has it that, in 1675, the Spanish José Salcedo witnessed a discussion between the devil and the Virgin Mary in the mines of Puno. Since then, he decided to be kinder to the indigenous miners and gave them permission to dance the diablada during the festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria in Puno.

5- Huaconada

Declared by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, this dance is typical of the Huanca ethnic group, which extends through the Mito region. It is a ritual dance that is more than 15,000 years old and in which men dance imitating the flight movement of the condor.

6- Chonguinada

Considered the official dance of Muruhuay, its origin is very particular, since it mocked the customs of the Spanish and Europeans. In fact, it is a dance with characteristics similar to the French minuet.

7- Avelinos

Declared Cultural Patrimony of the Nation in 2008, it is a dance that refers to the combatant troops in the Chilean War. It is characterized by its clothing and animal masks made with skin or cloth.

8- Pachahuara

It is also known as the slavery dance, since it made reference to the suffering of black slaves. Currently it is a dance to worship the Child Jesus, danced on Christmas day in the squares of Junín and other neighboring towns.

9- Sarah Hallmay

Typical of the Cusco region, it takes place during the Andean carnivals or the Pukllay. It is danced to the sound of the Andean bandurria and most of the dancers are men. It has an agricultural character.

10- Rogue

Declared Cultural Heritage of the Nation in 2011, it is a very popular dance from the Central Sierra of Peru, specifically from the district of Yauyos (Jauja), in which it is danced on the Festivity of the patron saints San Sebastián and San Fabián.

11- Allpa Llankay

Agricultural dance carried out in honor of Pachamama, Mother Earth. It is typical of the department of Cusco and makes constant references to the field work typical of that region of Peru.

12- Year Tarpuy

It is a dance-ritual in which they ask for a better production and protection of the crops, especially the year, which is sown between the months of May and June. This offering is typical of the department of Arequipa.

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