Peru has a rich cultural history that stretches back thousands of years and with that comes traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. From the Moche to the Incas and then the arrival of the Spanish, Peru is an interesting and unique amalgamation of cultures and this is directly reflected in the traditional dances. Here is our guide to 7 truly unique Peruvian dances.
Marinera is an elegant dance representing courtship and love, enacted by two dancers. The man and woman dance around each other, moving in and out, back and forth, wth swooping and playful gestures and handkerchiefs that float around above them like birds. The dance originated on the coast of Peru and has slight variations throughout the country. The dance itself has gained a lot of recognition and is one of the most popular traditional dances of Peru. You’ll find little kids dancing La Marinera in dance classes throughout Lima and other cities.
This is a traditional Andean dance that is popular in the Peruvian highlands and Andes. Participants wear traditional Andean clothing, with bright and vibrant colors and it is performed by couples who make turns and movements featuring hops and foot stamps which mark the rhythm.
Kind of like a dance off with scissors, this dance originated in the south Andes of Peru. The dancers take turns dancing in sync which is followed by solo moments where one dancer takes center stage, performing moves somewhat similar to an Irish jig – but with scissors. The dance is accompanied by violins and harps. Catch the dance performed in December in the city of Huancavelica when they celebrate the Scissor Dance.
Huaconada is a dance performed in the village of Mito in the central part of the Peruvian Andes. During the first couple days of January, masked men called huacones take center stage in the main plaza, performing choreographed dances. The masks are supposed to inspire respect and fear, representing elders – with the large faces and curved noses, they accomplish just that.
El Val Criollo is the Peruvian version of the European waltz. The dance was brought to Peru from Spain during the colonials years and has changed since its first introduction to the shores of Peru. Afro-Peruvian singers now dominate the genre, with the most famous having been Lucha Reyes.
This is a dance with accompanying guitar – that began in the north coast of Peru, particularly in the city of Piura. It is very similar to La Marinera with dancers both flirting with and courting each other. The dance also uses the handkerchief as a prop.
The Wititi dance is a staple of Arequipa and the Colca Valley associated with maturation and coming of age. This is another courtship ritual typically preformed during the religious festivals. It is a little bit different than other Peruvian dances with rows of young men and women performing choreographed steps and moves. Women keep the Andean tradition of wearing bright clothing and Andean hats while the men dress up in women’s clothing. It is not quite understood exactly why men wear women’s clothing but it is believed that it was done to trick enemies – because the dance comes from a tribute to military conquest – or as a way to seduce women without arising suspicion (possibly so their wives didn’t notice them with another woman).