Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Fiesta in Yauyos, part 1: The Dancers

I live in the small town of Marco, and the nearest city is Jauja, with about 20,000 people. Jauja is really two cities: Jauja and Yauyos. This week is the annual fiesta in Yauyos. There are 26 orchestras in town for the fiesta, each associated with a group of dancers. On Sunday, I went to watch the dance competition and judging.

All around the plaza the streets were lined with stalls selling food and goods. Pork was popular. And here, it’s really clear that pork comes from a pig. Recently.

 And that meant lots of work for the knife sharpener.
I stopped for a treat at this stall.

A family from Marcos was there. This neighbor recognized me and sat with me to keep me company.

After my snack, I went to see the action. In the plaza, the dancers performed in the center of the plaza.

On a stage nearby, the orchestras played.

And the announcers kept us informed.
 The judges watched and gave scores
All around the plaza, there were wooden viewing stands that had been erected so people could watch the show.

Each group of dancers marched in with their banner, carried by leaders from their sponsoring organization. These people are probably the steering committee of a community farmer’s association.

For the dance featured at this fiesta, there is a set cast of characters. Every dance troupe has examples of each character. This is “Chapeton”, a parody of the ruling class during the conquest era. Chapeton always has large handkerchiefs, a plumed hat and embroidered knee pants.
But is just as tied to the cell phone as you or I.

Here’s “Jaujina”, who represents the mestizas, the children of intermarriage between the native Xauxinos and the Spanish. She represents the upper classes.

Huanaca represents the descendants of the Inca, and the upper class of Xauxa who made alliance with the Spanish invaders and settled into the middle class. These dancers had amazing embroidered mantas and dresses. Here’s front and back of one costume:

And another

 This character is “Chuncho”, who represents the people of the jungle. Chuncho usually carries a bow and arrow, to represent the role they played in the fight for independence from Spain. He carries products of the jungle as well. For thousands of years there has been brisk trade between the Andes, where I live, and the jungle to the east.

There are two characters with fuzzy white masks. Chuto is middle class, and is a clown character who interacts with the public. He often has a pipe.

Indio is lower class and represents the exploited campesinos.

These two are the domineering Maria Pichana and her cowed husband Viejito.
Cuzquena represents a woman of Cuzco, with her artisan goods

And Jamille is the curandero, or herbalist.
 Arriero is the trader, from Argentina, who travels everywhere and encounters all the other types of characters.
 I noticed that this character always wore spurs.
 That got me interested in feet. Here's part of my series of photos of dancers’ feet.

I watched from one of the stairways to the stage. This little girl shared my step.

After a while, I took a stroll around the plaza. There were plenty of goods offered for sale.

I bought anitcuchos (grilled slices of beef heart), one of my favorite Peruvian foods. Of course, you get potato with that. In the Andes, you get potato with everything.

I love the fiestas here.


  1. Ah, a festival! Parties seem similar all over the world - people having fun! Thanks so much for the pictures, Alane. They are wonderful.

  2. HI Alane,

    I just saw your Blog. I am so happy you ended up in Peru. It sounds wonderful. There is a chance that my boyfriend and I will be taking a trip to Peru December 2013. If we do and you are around perhaps we will come visit! Keep me posted on your adventures and if you want to write up an article on your service I can see about getting it published in the Durango and/or FLC papers.

    Email me on my work address..