in other parts of the Americas, Africans arrived in Peru as part
of the Spanish trade between the 16th and the 19th centuries. Their
labor built coastal cities and enriched valley farms; their contribution
to music and dance created a fusion known as landó.
Traditional festejo and zapateo are styles that
come from "El Carmen," a village located in the Chincha province
south of Lima, in the coastal region. This is a distinct region where
the pronounced legacy of African slaves adds a unique flavor to the
ever present Spanish and indigenous heritage.
Though in many parts of the Americas indigenous peoples were decimated,
Peruvian indigenous culture continues to be a strong presence in
Peruvian life and art. However, the unique coastal styles of music and dance are dominated
by African and Spanish influences, with indigenous elements. Some
subtle aspects of the song format and the musical intonation, and
some costuming elements, can be traced to indigenous peoples. Much
of the instrumentation and language of the songs are clearly Spanish,
and the syncopated rhythms, call and response song format, and many
of the dance movements are African in origin.
Africans that arrived in Peru were brought mostly from the regions
of Angola and the Congo, but also many other people of African descent
arrived who were born in Panama, Spain, and Brazil. Since the African
ethnic groups were so mixed by the time they reached Peru, most religious
traditions and languages were lost, though some music and dance survived.
In festejo, a festive social dance, it is easy to see the African
influence in the rhythmic movements and isolations of the torso and
pelvis. Zapateo (footwork competition) exhibits the subtle and intricate
footwork based on African rhythms, which is related to North American
clogging and tap dancing. Though not directly influenced by each
other historically, dancers in both Peru and North America developed
percussive dance under similar conditions and circumstances, attesting
to the creativity and adaptability of strong traditions such as those
from West Africa.
De Rompe y Raja Cultural Association performs Son de los Diablos for People Like Me 2009. This dance originated from The Corpus Christy Celebrations
in the colonial period in Peru
representing the "Good" and the "Evil". In this case the
"good" was the dominant class (Spanish) and the "Evil" were
the African slaves and their traditions. This dance form evolved in 4
centuries to be part of Carnival celebrations in the Coast of Peru, mainly in Lima. This folkloric form was no longer
practiced by the 1950's. The Afro-Peruvian revival (Jose Duran's Pancho Fierro
& Victoria and Nicomedes Santa Cruz "Cumanana"groups) from
the late 1950's & 60'sbrought this dance from the forgotten past to
the stage. Elders gave a lot of advise to develop a recreation of the dance.
Footwork was used as well. It was practiced as a "Comparsa Style"
where minor devils obeyed the commands of their leader called "Diablo
Mayor" (Main Devil)
The costumes and instruments were based on watercolor works
from a mulatto painter, Pancho Fierro who was a live witness of the first years
of the Republican period in Peru
(1821-1850) (Freedom from Spain). Small masks for the regular devils and a big mask for the leader, this
character usually had a notebook where he noted who was beheaving good or bad,
he also had a whip and was responsible of the quadrille's (gang) order.
In People Like Me
De Rompe y Raja presented "Amador," the story of one of the last
of Afro-Peruvian traditions. A recreation of how oral
through generations in Peruvian black communities, this piece
fancy footwork, and lively music featuring guitar, singing, and
of the Peruvian cajón, or
dancer "Lalo" Izquierdo performed along with
Gabriela Shiroma. Señor Izquierdo and master guitarist
Santiago "Coco" Linares,
brought directly from Peru for People Like Me, joined
Bay Area musicians
Pedro Rojales and Javier Nunton, creating a versatile and
and dance ensemble.
translation of a famous song about Amador:
"If you listen at night,
he is playing his cajón,
play with his two hands, shiny black hands Panalivio,