The Festival of St Peter and Paul came to a close with an exhibition of La Marinera, The National Dance of Peru. Also as an introduction to the dancers several acrobats put on a rather confusing yet amusing performance which includes play fighting and a strange display of flirtation.
On this occasion it was the children who put on the show in their wonderful outfits and beautiful footwork.
This dance is a special part of Trujillo tradition and children begin to learn at a very young age, indeed some of the competitors were as young as 6. I wrote a piece on this dance a while back so for those who are interested this is the rough history of Marinera.
A dance full of romance and flirtation. Marinera is one of the most beautiful complex dances in the world.
Comprising of intricate footwork, the moves invoke a courting ritual between the dancing couple. White handkerchiefs are waved in each other faces then abruptly pulled away as is the face in a display of coyness designed to heighten the flirtatious ritual of this most lovely of traditions.
The origins of the Marinera are disputed with historian Romulo Cuneo Vidal, believing
that it’s roots date back to the Inkas and possibly before the Inka’s indeed in Huacas (temples/sacred sites) discovered in Peru which date back to these time depicted through murals and engravings of apparent Marinera poses.
Other historians believe it originated with the arrival of the Spanish who incorporated the moves with African and Andean expression as well as their own native dance.
Normally the dancers are accompanied by a group of musicians comprising of 4 guitars, and a Cajon or a wooden crate percussion instrument. Later the bugle was added to the ensemble. In addition the dancers clap to the rhythm.
The name of the dance was originally known as Chilena but after the infamous border war between Peru and Chile in 1879, the Peruvians renamed the dance Marinera in honor of its Navy who had fought so valiantly during the aforementioned conflict.
The attire for the dance is for the man mostly white. A large brimmed straw hat and white pants with a hand woven white poncho. The lady is dressed in skirts wide and full of the color of her choosing. Her bodice is figure hugging and while the men wear black shiny patent shoes, the ladies
always dance barefoot.
The dancers zigzag around each other coming close yet remaining aloof. As one dancer described it “ call her attention, seek her, greet her softly. Try to get closer it is the sole reason of the ritual”.
The music and subsequently the moves start off slowly with solid steps yet delicate form, it builds up, the music becoming more lively the dance more vibrant the expressions full of desire. One professional dancer commented that she “dances from the depths of her soul”.
There are three areas where Marinera is popular. Marinera Limera (Lima) Marinera Serrana (The Andean version) but the undisputed capital of this most romantic of expressions is on the Coast namely in the coastal town of Trujillo, where the national finals are held each January, hosted by the Club Liberitard Trujillo, attracting thousands from all over the country and the best of the best of competitors. The competition is fierce and taken very seriously, dancers often training for many years to get there. There are also numerous Marinera dance academies throughout the U.S.
There is another form of the dance, which is performed by a rider on the back of a Peruvian Paso horse. Horse
and rider strike a number of impressive moves. It is certainly not only a beautiful exhibition but an extraordinary show of horsemanship.
As the famous Peruvian vocalist Susana Baca described the dance “I could tell you that my skin bristles and I can’t control it”.
These little boys and girls are so talented and enthusiastic with each and every one of them giving amazing performances to an ecstatic audience, It was for me the highlight of the festival and a marvelous end to a colorful and lively week.
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