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Members of the Fall 2013 Peru SST unit kicked up their heels – and lifted high their legs, arms and bodies – during a spirited workshop on traditional dances of Peru. Their instructors were Pedro Farias and Lisette Alcántara, enthusiastic and talented dancers who have performed with many professional groups.
Using videos, music and patient step-by-step instruction, Pedro introduced students to three traditional Peruvian dances—one from the Amazon rain forest, one from the Andes and one from the coast. Pedro provided the historical background and context about each, including the meaning behind the dancers, the costumes worn and the major physical movements required.
Pedro and Lisette demonstrated each dance’s moves, which often involved vigorous jumps and rapid body contortions. The students then took to the dance floor to try them out. The non-stop exercise made the students appreciate the artistry, body control and sheer endurance required to replicate dances that take indigenous and Afro-Peruvian dancers many years to perfect.
A long-time friend of the program, Pedro had an infectious enthusiasm that kept the students dancing for two full hours. The students set aside their initial shyness and participated enthusiastically. By the end, the students demonstrated the ability to replicate some of the complex dance moves, despite feeling tired. They kept time with the music, smiled, laughed and enjoyed dancing to the rhythms of Peru.