The Peruvian Scissor Dance is a fascinating tradition in which dancers snip and twirl blades as they jump, spin and move between the floor and the air. It was recently added to UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage list, giving it international recognition. The list was formed in 2003 to preserve art forms and traditions around the world in a time of globalization. It is a tradition dating back to the 16th century, when dancers supposedly used it as a way to express their resistance to the Spanish conquest in Peru.
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The thing that I love about Peru is its cultural vibrancy. Peruvians are very passionate in the way they embrace and celebrate life. There are 3,000 festivals throughout the year and most of them are celebrations of thanksgiving by an agrarian people for another season of divine provision.
On the shores of Lake Titicaca sits the pastoral hamlet of Puno. It is known as the folk capital of the Americas and every year, for the first two weeks in February, the townspeople celebrate their abundance with the festival of the Virgen de la Candeleria. It is one of Peru’s more spectacular events, at once solemn and gay with its worshipful processions adorned with ornate costumes and masks accompanied by music and dancing throughout the town.
My husband’s mother was born in Puno and the family continues to have a home in this small town on the shores of Lake Titicaca. I spent a few days there last year during the February festival and enjoyed watching the procession through the town’s small Plaza de Armas. All bets are off during this season in Puno; children are up hours beyond their bedtime dancing in the streets along with their parents, usually in some extravagant costume. Alberto says that some of the townspeople save up all year long just to have the money to buy one of these incredibly colorful, elaborate costumes.
It is always a treat to witness the dancing in Peru, whether it’s Puno’s popular huayno or the marinera of Trujillo, especially for someone like me. I’m not likely to be out there myself, just not born with those particular genes, but I can appreciate all the more the joy that Peruvians express through their dance.