World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


De Rompe y Raja Cultural Association

GENRE: Afro-Peruvian
First appearance in SF EDF: 1996

De Rompe y Raja Cultural Association, founded in 1995, is dedicated to preserving, promoting, and making visible Afro-Peruvian traditions and culture from coastal Peru. Gabriela Shiroma formed this pioneering company focusing on Afro-Peruvian music and dance—the intersection of indigenous Peruvian, European, and African influences—a genre then virtually unknown outside of Peru. De Rompe y Raja is a cultural bridge, as a home to visiting master teachers and as an umbrella organization for related projects, including the youth ensemble Huaranguito, and El Atajo de San Francisco.


GENRE: Afro-Peruvian
TITLE: De Cajón: A Tribute to EDF’s 40 Years
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Peta Robles, Gabriela Shiroma
SOLO DANCERS: Braulio Barrera, Javier Gordillo Barrera, Peta Robles
DANCERS: Jannett Alberg, Leo Alejandría, Mateo Alejandría, Jacqueline Alyousfi, Fernanda Bustamante, Francesca Ferreira Caruana, Lucía Castañeda, Jorge Colaizzo, Magnolia Diaz, Barbara Diestra, Gabriela Guimarey Ferreira, Adriana Rodríguez García, Graciela Giraldo, Victoria Giraldo, Carlo Gutierrez, Doris Gutierrez, Jonathan Hernández, Marina Hernández,Matthias Horn, Maria Judson, Pina López, Erika Luna, Jesús Martínez, Lali Mejia, John Miluso, Sandra Miluso, Elisa Montemayor, Zhayra Palma, Liliana Rosas, Gabriela Shiroma, Daniela Tenorio, Arleen Dangoy Thomas, Hegel Torres, Italo Valle, Demond Ware, Diego Zamalloa-Chion, Marylin Zúñiga
MUSICIANS: Braulio Barrera (percussion), Javier Gordillo Barrera (percussion), José Roberto Hernández (guitar, vocals), Silvestre Martínez (percussion), Luis Ramos (guitar, vocals)


De Cajón is a 40-cajón tribute to the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, performed by members of the Bay Area Peruvian community. Multiple traditional Afro-Peruvian rhythms merge in this contemporary presentation:

Lamento is a musical genre from the time of slavery in Peru, pointing to the cajón as transmitter of the Afro-Peruvian experience throughout its history—

...Madera curtida, graves profundos, Agudos
hirientes. Tu voz renace la historia de nuestra
pueblo, de nuestra vida!
...cured wood, deep bass, piercing high tones.
Your voice that gives new birth to the history
of our people, our lives!

Zamacueca—Mother Dance of the Americas, with its folkloric children: Peruvian marinera, Argentine zamba, Chilean and Bolivian cuecas, Mexican chilena, and dances of the California Gold Rush. This traditional celebration of romance and independence—with three-step turns, saludo bows, paseo steps, sensual seduction—is danced with a modern, urban flair.

Landó—with its soulful rhythm and multicultural "true Peruvian" sound, evolved during the 20th century Afro-Peruvian Renaissance, from foundational musicians such as Chabuca Granda, Victoria Santa Cruz, Ronaldo Campos, and Caitro Soto.

Vals Criollo, Peruvian Waltz—an old adaptation of the European waltz expressing the personality, conflicts, and values of Lima's 1920s-30s urban working class.

El Son de los Diablos, Song of the Devils—originally conceived by Spanish conquistadores to convert Peruvians to Catholicism, and later assimilated by enslaved Africans. Banned by the Church in the early 19th century, the tradition lived until the late 1950s in Carnival celebrations.

Festejo, a festive couple's dance from Lima and Ica, one of Peru's oldest African-rooted dances, with strong pelvic movements.

The purple costumes honor Peru’s saint, El Señor de los Milagros (miracles); traditional elements are panuelos (scarves) and Diablo mask. Musicians play guitar, with percussion marked by footwork, cajita clapping box, quijada donkey-jaw scraper, and 40 (!) cajón box drums.


GENRE: Afro-Peruvian
TITLE: Toromata—The Bull Kills
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Julio Cesar Baluarte, Gabriela Shiroma, Carlos Venturo
DANCERS: Julio Cesar Baluarte, Fernanda Bustamante, Joseph Copley, Adriana Rodriguez, Gabriela Shiroma, Carlos Venturo, Tyese Wortham
MUSICIANS: Maricruz Bisso (vocals), Fernanda Bustamante (violin), Max Guimarey (cajón), Jonathan Hernandez (cajón), José Roberto Hernandez (guitar), Alberto Palomino (congas), Peta Robles (cajón), Rosa Los Santos (vocals, percussion)

World Premiere

Toromata means The Bull Kills, and in this famous Afro-Peruvian piece, the bull refers to the Colonial Spanish who set out to conquer Peru, and established a viceroyalty there, 1542–1824. The song was originally sung and danced by enslaved Africans in Chincha and Canete, Peru. This choreography, by Gabriela Shiroma, is adapted from a 1970s version—with music by Peruvian composer Caitro Soto and choreography by Ronaldo Campos and Lalo Izquierdo from Company Perú Negro. The performance is quickly recognizable as a political statement: a charged mockery of the Conquistadores’ waltzes and minuets.

It begins with a solo dance representing the oppression and survival of the Afro-Peruvian people, with a lament from De España by poet César Calvo:

De España nos llego Cristo,
pero tambien el patron.
El patron igual que a Cristo
al negro crucificó.
Sobre la mar de mi sangre
un toro bravo llegó.
Embistiendo el toro llegó bailando minuet!

Christ came to us from Spain
but so did “El Patron”
“El Patron” crucified the Negro
just as he did Christ
A wild bull arrived,
sailing over the sea of my blood
charging, that bull arrived—
and arrived dancing the minuet!

A minuet section follows, showing the connection between Toromata and colonial Peru, and honoring the dynamism of culture, music, and tradition.

Afro-Peruvian musical instruments reflect a complicated history. The cajón is the center of Afro-Peruvian culture, originally played by African dock workers in the ports of Peru, who created a vibrant music with packing crates. Spanish percussionist Rubem Dantas, who played with flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía, brought the cajón home in the 1970s as a gift from Caitro Soto—and it’s now as fundamental to flamenco as the Spanish guitar is to coastal Peruvian music. The quijada—donkey jaw—is also an invention by musicians lacking instruments. The bongo drum, conga, and cow bell—also with African and European roots—arrived with Cuban artists in the 1960s.


De Rompe y Raja – Asociación Cultural Kanchis

TITLE: Hatajo De Negritos
GENRE: Afro-Peruvian
CHOREOGRAPHERS: Peta Robles, Gabriela Shiroma
GUEST ARTIST: Miguel Ballumbrosio
DANCERS: Juandiego Britto, Fernanda Bustamante, Norma Depina, Bárbara Diestra, Roxana Ferreira, Gabriella Guimarey, Max Guimarey, Jonathan Hernández, Pina López, Rosa Los Santos, Sylvia Pestana, Julissa Rivera, Marco Rivera, Miguel Sanchez, Erika Sarmiento, Trini Sarmiento, Gabriela Shiroma, Diego Zamalloa-Chion
VIOLIN: Daniel Zamalloa

En Nombre de Dios comienzo
Porque es bueno comenzar

In the name of God I will start
Because that is the only way

Peru was the seat of the Spanish Viceroy in South America beginning in the 16th century. During nearly three hundred years of colonial rule, the culture and traditions of Peru’s indigenous population and people of African descent were almost completely absorbed into Spanish Catholicism. This piece, Hatajo de Negritos, pays homage to Black identity in rural Peru. It is a vignette of a Christmas festival in the town of El Carmen, Chincha—a festival with diverse elements from Peru’s cultural history.

During the festivities, a statue of the Virgin Mary is carried in procession. Young girls called pallas don bridal veils and sing carols to honor Mary and the baby Jesus. Young boys and men sing and dance to violin music in front of nativity scenes: celebrating in their homes, the village square, and in front of the church. The festivities end on January 6th with a procession to the sanctuary of the Blessed Melchorita, a local holy woman, in the neighboring village of Grocio Prado.

In this tradition, indigenous Peruvian, Spanish, and African cultures converge. The lyrics are from European Christmas carols, with some references to the hardships of slavery. Dancers carry hand bells and rope whips reminiscent of slavery, and they dance in parallel lines led by a caporal, or foreman. The melodies are of Spanish origin with a strong Andean influence. The quick zapateo footwork displays an African heritage.

In the 20th century, Familia Ballumbrosio—a family of dancers and musicians led by the late Amador Ballumbrosio, zapateador and violinist—continued and rejuvenated the hatajos tradition. Today, the festivities are a vital part of Chincha’s Afro-Peruvian life.

De Rompe y Raja’s performance is part of an ongoing cultural exchange with the Ballumbrosio and Córdova families, from El Carmen, Chincha, Peru. In 2013, De Rompe y Raja visited El Carmen, rehearsed these dances with local practitioners, and performed with Hatajo Amador Ballumbrosio. Our Festival was honored to have Amador’s son, master musician and dancer Miguel Ballumbrosio, as a guest leader of the hatajos.


GENRE: Afro-Peruvian
TITLE: Ritmos Negros Del Peru
Gabriela Shiroma
Braulio Barrera (cajón), Javier Gordillo (dance), Peta Robles (zapateo, cajitas y quijadas),Gabriela Shiroma (original idea)
MUSICIAN/DANCERS: Braulio Barrera,Fernanda Bustamante, Javier Gordillo, Jose Roberto Hernandez, Peta Robles, Pedro Rosales, Rosa Los Santos, Gabriela Shiroma
DANCERS: Roxana Ferreira, Zhayra Palma, Erica Sarmiento


Si me preguntan lo que más quiero,
yo les respondo mi ritmo negro

Por su saoco, por su salero
y la sandunga siempre primero

If you ask me what do I love the most
I will answer my Peruvian Black Rhythm
For its wit and for its salt

This is what always comes first

Ritmos Negros Del Perú means Black Rhythms of Peru, and this performance brings to life an Afro-Peruvian dance party. Six dances summon the unhesitating rhythms of freedom.

The set begins with Festejo, a contemporary Afro-Peruvian number, and the next piece, Landó, exhibits ancient and ritual syncopations. Next, Zapateo is named for the intricate a capella footwork contest; and Panalivio, is an old mourning song that evokes memories and rhythms from slavery times. The finaldance sequence is Zamacueca and Marinera. The zamacueca was born in poor neighborhoods as a New World interpretation of Spanish affectation: Peruvians of European descent regarded it as a low-class. It’s a style with ancient Andean rhythms, and it evolved further into the Argentine zamba, the Chilean and Bolivian cuecas, and the Mexican chilena—and the Peruvian marinera, the national dance of struggle, independence, passion, and love.

Afro-Peruvian music, song, and dance are a single continuum of rhythms, developed during Peru’s colonial period, when Africans, brought to Peru as enslaved workers, merged their syncopations with the lively dance and music of Spanish colonialists and indigenous Peruvians. These forms have been celebrated, preserved, and reinvented by countless drumming hands and dancing feet.

Ritmos Negros Del Peru is based on traditional dances, choreographed in 2012 and set for this stage by Gabriela Shiroma in collaboration with master artists Peta Robles, Braulio Barrera, and Javier Gordillo. The song was composed by Pedro Rosales. The company learned the traditional dances from master dancers of renowned Afro-Peruvian ensembles Peru Negro, Mamauca, Familia Vasquez, and Familia Ballumbrosio.

The costumes celebrate the colors of the Peruvian flag: red for blood, war, slavery, suffering, passion, love, and life; white for peace, purity, soul, survival, spirituality, and freedom. Afro-Peruvian music relies on percussion instruments developed by the Afro-Peruvian community. Cajon is the wooden box drum, possibly invented when dock workers played on crates. The quijada is a donkey jaw with loose teeth, shaken as rattle or scraped rhythmically with a stick. The cajita is a lidded box derived from the collection box in Catholic churches.


De Rompe y Raja2012 PERFORMANCE

Mujer Negra
Gabriela Shiroma
2012 DANCERS: Eleana Arizaga, Fernanda Bustamante, Roxana Ferreyra, Mariela Herrera, Zhayra
Palma, Sylvia Pestana, Erica Sarmiento, Gabriela Shiroma, Tyese M. Wortham
Jose Roberto Hernandez (guitar), Javier Nunton (cajón), Alberto Palomino (conga), Davis Rodriguez (cow bell), Pedro Rosales (cajón), Rosa Los Santos (lead vocalist), Miguel Sisniegas (donkey’s jaw), Javier Trujillo (guitar), Daniel Zamalloa (guitar), Federico Zuñiga (bass)

2011 DANCERS: Eleana Arizaga, Fernanda Bustamante, Roxana Ferreyra, Mariela Herrera, Zhayra Palma, Sylvia Pestana, Erica Sarmiento, Gabriela Shiroma, Tyese M. Wortham
Jose Roberto Hernandez (guitar), Javier Nunton (cajón), Alberto Palomino (conga), Davis Rodriguez (cow bell), Pedro Rosales (cajón), Rosa Los Santos (lead vocalist), Miguel Sisniegas (donkey’s jaw), Javier Trujillo (guitar), Daniel Zamalloa (guitar), Federico Zuñiga (bass)


Del Africa hasta esta tierra, mujer negra . . .
Di de mamar a sus hijos, los cuidaba
Les presto mi risa, Les presto mi fuego
Les presto mi ritmo, Me celebro!

From Africa to this land, the black woman . . .
I nursed their children, I cared for them
I lend you my laughter, I lend you my fire,
I lend you my rhythm, I celebrate myself!

Mujer Negra—Black Woman, pays tribute to Peru’s independence (1821), and to the contribution of Peruvian women of African descent. It is a unique all-women performance of the Afro-Peruvian zamacueca, traditionally a courtship dance. De Rompe y Raja honors the femininity and authoritativeness of African women, and their joy in political freedom.

Zamacueca is known as the Mother Dance of the Americas, a dance of celebration, gallantry, romance, independence, identity, and struggle. Its folkloric children include the Peruvian marinera, Argentine samba, Chilean and Bolivian cueca, Mexican chilena, and several California Gold Rush dances. Lima’s mostly-African population created the form in coastal Peru in the late eighteenth century Colonial period. For the Afro-Peruvians, it was a New World interpretation of Spanish affectation; for the European classes, it became the dance of dubious societies.

In the 1950s and ’60s era, Peruvian folkloric pioneers Jose Duran Flores and Victoria Santa Cruz revived the zamacueca and choreographed it for stage. This performance is in this post-revival style, emphasizing the African elements of syncopation, conga, cowbells, exaggerated pelvic movement, and call and response song. The cajón box drum was ingeniously invented by African dockworkers; the guitar and vocals are Spanish; the pentatonic harmonies are indigenous Andean.

The post-revival costume is also by Duran and Santa Cruz, inspired by Pancho Fierro’s 1800s era watercolors of original zamacueca dancers. The hats are from the colonial plantation; white and red handkerchiefs poke fun at the Spanish fandango and also represent Peru’s life’s blood.

Gabriela Shiroma created Mujer Negra in 2010. She learned the dance in Peru from Enrique Barrueto, Julio Casanova, Marlo Melgar, and Lalo Izquierdo, and she has researched this nearly-disappearing form for fifteen years.


TITLE: Son De Los Diablos
Dance Origin: Coastal Peru
Choreographer: Gabriela Shiroma
Dancers: Michelle Aguero, Rosa Cabezudo, Yaccaira De La Torre, Mariela Herrera, Rosa Los Santos, Zhayra Palma, Sylvia Pestana, Carmen Roman, Erika Sarmiento, Gabriela Shiroma, Diana Suarez, Joanna Suarez, Carlos Venturo, Carmen Violich
Juan Carlos Angulo (2nd cajón), Edmond Badeaux (harp), Ryan Chesire (cajita), Lichi Fuentes (vocals), Omar Gutierrez (quijada), Marina Lavalle (vocals), Erik Molina (cajita), David Pinto (guitar), Pedro Rosales (cajón & vocals), Frances Vidal (cajita & vocals), Federico Zuñiga (bass) 

Son de los Diablos (Song-dance of the Devils) is an Afro-Peruvian street masquerade dance that originated in colonial Lima. In the 1500s, Spanish colonialists prohibited Africans generally from dancing, but also forced them to perform traditional African dances in morality plays and Corpus Christi pageants, dressed as devils in straw and goatskins. By the time slavery was abolished in 1854, Afro-Peruvians had appropriated this dance as a symbol of cultural resistance. The Son de los Diablos dance was paraded through Afro-Peruvian neighborhoods during carnival time. Dancers painted their faces with flags of African countries, performed stunts and tricks in masks, and burlesqued and parodied devils, with marching cuadrillas (teams of dancers and musicians) of little devils kept in line with the Diablo Mayor's (Head Devil's) whip. These performances evolved into fierce zapateo competitions, lengthy theatrical pieces, and religious parodies, such as one in which the Diablo Mayor forced the little devils to form a choreographic cross.  

President Manuel Prado banned the increasingly “wild” carnaval in the 1940s, but the devils kept coming back. In the mid-50s, visionary folklorists Jose Duran and Victoria Santa Cruz staged an ethnographic recreation based on a 19th-century watercolor by Pancho Fierro. In the 1980's, Lima's Movimiento Negro Francisco Congo and Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani revived the dance because of its theatricality, and also as a way to begin examining and erasing colonial assumptions: as "a collective exploration of embodied social memory, particularly in relation to questions of ethnicity, violence, and memory in Peru." In 2004, in Lima's carnival, the devils took back the streets, as comparsas from all over Lima arrived to dance Son de los Diablos.

The choreography of this piece represents the dance as it was seen in Peru's first years of Independence (1821-1850). The costumes are based on Pancho Fierro's 1800s watercolor. The wonderfully expressive smaller masks were made in Peru by Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, and the larger mask was made in the Bay Area by Edmund Badeaux from the Chaskinakuy Andean music group. The traditional son music was recovered from fragments of guitar melody, and older performers' memories of rhythms on the cajita (wooden collection boxes from churches, turned into percussion instruments worn around the neck) and the quijada (the jawbone of a donkey, horse, or mule, scraped or struck to make the molars rattle in their sockets.) For this piece, the cajón (Afro-Peruvian wooden box drum) and guitar lead the piece.

In honor of People Like Me's 15th Anniversary (World Arts West's arts education program), De Rompe y Raja Cultural Association portrays the brother of the Sun Goddess—the angry storm god—and his attendant in an abbreviated version of Return of the Sun, the story of Amaterasu, the Japanese Sun Goddess. Fortunately these fearsome dancers calm down when the Sun Goddess returns, reassuring us that darkness, storm, and winter will always balance and complete the light.


TITLE: Homenaje a Mis Maestros (A Tribute to the Masters)
GENRE: Zapateo Negro
Gabriela Shiroma
DANCERS: Michelle Aguero, Rosa Cabezudo, Annahi Hernandez, Sylvia Pestana, Carmen Roman, Gabriela Shiroma
MUSICIANS: Rosa Los Santos (vocals), Emperatriz Luperdi (guapeo), Vladimir Vukanovich (vocals), andPedro Rosales (vocals/cajón)

Homenanje a Mis Maestros is A Tribute to the Masters, celebrating the drumming and subtle footwork of Afro-Peruvian Masters of zapateo criollo. Zapateo literally means shoe tapping and zapateo criollo is sometimes called "Peruvian tap dance." Dancers and musicians engage in an animated call and response—playing syncopated hard shoe footwork off the rhythms of guitar, cajón, and vocals.

Zapateo criollo originated in the Afro-Peruvian communities of coastal Peru. In the 16th -19th centuries, Spanish colonizers transported thousands of enslaved Africans to Peru, and their labor turned Peruvian ports into bustling centers of immigration and trade. As Afro-Peruvian communities grew, they developed unique styles of dance and music, mixing African rhythms with Creole, Spanish Roma, European, and indigenous Peruvian rhythms. It's said that Africans in Peru invented the cajón—the wooden box drum used in all kinds of Latin American music—as they improvised rhythms on wooden fruit crates. In many neighborhoods instruments were scarce, so musicians and dancers perfected a vocal style simulating a guitar's plunks, plinks, and strums.

Zapateo criollo evolved into a contest of skilled footwork, and its judges enforced a complex set of rules. Dancers performed five paradas (footwork patterns) in order; then performed the same paradas in reverse order; then ended with a redoble (footwork roll). Contestants were not allowed to repeat the patterns already danced by them or their competitors. Instead, they began by improvising in a style borrowed from a master dancer, and gradually became known for their own distinctive steps.

Traditionally, only men danced the zapateo, so the women dancers of De Rompe y Raja present a twist on tradition. The one male dancer/drummer attempts to take over from the rest of the company, because he "knows how to do it better." As you watch the friendly competition, remember that de rompe y raja meansincredible!When a friend asks, "How was the party last night?" the answer is . . . DE ROMPE Y RAJA!!



TITLE: El Bueno y El Malo (The Good Guy and The Bad Guy)
GENRE: Zapateo Criollo
MUSICIAN: Jose Roberto Hernandez

The most distinctive Afro-Peruvian music is known as música criolla and is typically performed in intimate peñas (pubs) and family gatherings, as well as large public celebrations. Hailed as one of Peru’s great traditions, criollo music was given a commemoration day – October 31st is declared Día de la Canción Criolla. Zapateo is the dance style associated with criollo music. Derived from the word zapato, meaning shoe, zapateo is a kind of tap dancing competition between two dancers to the rhythm of the guitar and the cajón. In Peru there are yearly zapateo festivals and contests where renowned dancers exhibit the subtle yet intricately syncopated footwork derived from African rhythms.

El Bueno y El Malo (The Good Guy and The Bad Guy), is an innovative version of zapateo criollo performed as a solo by Freddy Lobaton. Here he interprets the personalities of two characters through alternating gestures, body facings, and footwork.


GENRE: Festejo
DANCERS: Rosa Caberzudo, Regina Califa, Emperatriz Luperdi, Silvia Pestana, Katherine Porras, Carmen Roman, Gabriela Shiroma, Sandra Silva
: Juan Carlos Angulo, Hector Benites, Carlos Britto, Lalo Izquierdo, Marina La Valle, Ivan Lino Montes, Rosa Los Santos, Vladimir Vukanovich, Pedro Rosales, Jose Soto

Festejo is a festive music first developed in the plantation fields during the 18th century. Slaves would employ Spanish elements as the guitar and lyrics, adding African elements like the cajón and other percussive instruments. The most joyous of Afro-Peruvian music and dance, festejos express happiness and freedom. There is a teasing and sensual dialogue between men and women through undulating movements of smooth curves, broken lines and sudden stops. After a 1950s renaissance of interest, festejo dances have become a part of contemporary Peruvian culture and are commonly practiced at social events.

In Mama Ñangue, presented by De Rompe y Raja, a wedding celebration is announced in the plantation field, which is a joyous declaration, as it means a day free from work!

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