Peru is the third largest country in South America, after Brazil and
Argentina. It lies along the Pacific ocean, in the western part of the
South American continent. Lima is the capital and Peru’s largest city.
Afro-Peruvian Folkloric: Festejo & Zapateo
Peruvian Coastal dance
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.