Sometimes your everyday life keeps you so busy that you don’t realize all the amazing things you can find in your city, much the less in your country. Peru is a country with a rich ancient culture that can be seen everywhere in ruins scattered around cities. It can also be appreciated through its music and dance. This weekend I had the honor of being part of a dance presentation at a school in Miraflores, where my daughter and her school were participating.
Let’s go back a little in time and remember that before the Incas, there were many other pre-incan cultures, for example: Huantar culture (1000 BC) from Ancash, north of Lima, the Paracas culture (700 BC) from Ica, south of Lima, the Mochica civilization (100 AD) from Chiclayo, in the north of the country, the Nazca culture (300 AD) from Nazca province 6h south of Lima, the Wari culture (600 AD) from Ayacucho Province, south east of Lima, the Chimu culture (700 AD) from Trujillo province, north of the country, the Chachapollas culture (800 AD), northeast of Lima, and so many others I could list here. Every one of these places has a temple that shows how these cultures lived and developed.
When the Spanish came, they found the Inca culture. Even though the first encounters are known to be quite bloody, this clash of cultures left behind a rich mix of local and European food, music and dance that make this country ever more interesting and fascinating. The Incas had the Tahuantinsuyo Empire, which was the largest and most ancient empire of the Americas. It dates back to 1200 AD. The capital was Cusco. We know today that this empire was well organized and was rich in gold, silver, food, and textiles. The Spanish brought other foods, animals, and beliefs that, with time, mixed in with the local customs and gave birth to what we know today as Peru.
I wanted to mention all of the above, because the dances that I saw this weekend show this mix of cultures that is so intertwined in everyday life today. The costumes, the moves, the expressions, the colors, the music; they all have a meaning behind them and represent each region of Peru. I couldn’t help but feel proud of being part of this wonderful country. We had dances from the Puno region celebrating its carnivals full of color, from the San Martin region which is in the jungle, also from the northern coast and southern coast of Peru, also afro-Peruvian rhythms showing the mix of cultures between the Spanish, the Indians, and the Black slaves brought from Africa, the list could go on.
One of the best shows was the Marinera dance, which comes from northern Peru: Chiclayo and specially Trujillo. This time it was represented by two children in kindergarten who danced with beautiful grace and were both dressed elegantly for the show. The little girl had a beautiful pink and blue dress and was carefully coiffed to match her elegant dress. The little boy was dressed in a grey and white outfit and impeccable shiny black shoes. Two stars were born! To see them elegantly dance was a delight. The audience cheered showing their excitement.
I have to say that the next time you come to Peru, you won’t regret experiencing such rich culture in every way possible – from visiting its ancient ruins, to savoring the local dishes, to watching local dances. It is all worthwhile. What better way to do all this while we help the local communities we work with? Come visit us, you will enjoy every minute here!