Groove to the Fierce Scissors Dance


Much of Peruvian culture and art forms trace their origin to Pre-Columbian era.  Maintaining a continuity of their ancient traditions is a matter of pride for them. And one such ritual is a colorful dance called danza de las tijeras.  Originally from Ayacucho, danza de las tijeras (scissors dance) is a traditional dance performed by Quechua communities of southern Andes.

The physical and spiritual knowledge implicit in the dance is passed on orally from teachers to students.  In 2010, UNESCO designated the dance to intangible culture heritage list owing to its rarity and exquisiteness.

Dance composition

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The dance is performed in the form of a band composed of a dancer, a violinist and a harpist. Dancers brandish two plates of polished metal in their right hand that look like scissors.  They clink the metal plates at the rhythm and make a sequence of jumps.  The dancers turn around sharply exhibiting strenuous moves such as dancing on one foot.

Competition between different groups                                                        

The band soon turns into a competition called Atipanakuy with dancers from different bands facing each other. With intense expressions and difficult stunts, they contest with each other and showcase their dancing talent.  The duel can become so passionate that it can last up to ten hours. The winner is declared based on the physical ability of the performer, the quality of the instruments and the musical skills of the accompanists.

What’s peculiar about danza de las tijeras

Dancers with fancy traditional attires embroidered with golden stripes, sequins and tiny mirrors are forbidden to enter the church premises. It is believed traditionally that dancers with such capabilities and energy are possessed with devilish powers.  But the irony is that the dance still forms an important part of Catholic festivities.

When and where is it performed?

Danza de las trijeras traditionally associates with agricultural practices in the Andean region like sowing, harvesting and llama shearing. The lively dance marks the celebration of Inka festival called Inki. It is celebrated with full fervor at secular and sacred places of Peru including urban areas. It is also commonly performed at the start of Christmas holidays, New Year and Epiphany.

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Jude C

I am a travel enthusiast who has closely worked with different communities. My interests range from alternative rock to English literature. I also happen to love cats a lot.

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