Dance Genre Buzz : The Elegant Courtship Dance of “The Marinera” of Peru

We’ve all heard of “when pigs fly”… but how about when horses dance? Well in this issue of STEPS! we will be exploring just that. We are highlighting a style of dance that will be well represented in Dance Parade with a float, live band, very colorful and vibrant traditional Marinera dancers and even a DANCING HORSE!web04

Marinera is a dance of Peru, generally called the “National Dance of Peru.” Marinera is a graceful and romantic couple’s dance that uses handkerchiefs as props. The dance is an elegant and stylized reenactment of a courtship, and it shows a blend of the different cultures of Peru. The dance itself has gained a lot of recognition and is one of the most popular traditional dances of Peru. Ever since the 1960s, during the month of January, in the city of Trujillo, declared national capital of this dance by law N° 24.447, January 24, in 1986, and a National Contest of Marinera Nortena is held. In year 2012 the congress of Peruvian republic reclared October 7 as Marinera Day and in Trujillo city is celebrated with a parade and dance expressions.[2]

The origin of the Marinera is generally traced back to the Zamacueca. Nevertheless, there are various other theories about where it comes from. Traditional accompaniment for the dance is provided by cajón, clarinets, guitars, drums, and bugles.

History
The exact origin of the dance is undetermined, but it is an unmistakable blend of Spanish, Moorish, Andean, and Gypsy rhythm influences. Though the marinera dance style had been around for centuries in Peru, it gained the name “marinera” in honor of the Peruvian Navy or the Marina de Guerra del Peru in 1879 when Peru entered war against Chile. The former name of the dance was “chilena” due to the friendly situations between the two nations, but due to the hostile situation, in a patriotic moment, it was agreed to be renamed.

According to Peruvian historian Romulo Cuneo Vidal, the zamacueca was itself a dance of rest during the times of the Inca empire (And in some Pre-Inca cultures). Thus, coming from such a far natively Peruvian background, the dance is itself simply a derivation of an ancient Peruvian dance. What helps validate this statement are the ancient huacos depicting people resting in the zamacueca positions.

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from The Hacienda Los Ficus, Lima, Peru

Creation Theories

Peruvian proposal
The claim coming from Peru is that the dance is exclusively Peruvian. According to Peruvian historian Rómulo Cúneo Vidal, the zamacueca was itself a dance of rest during the times of the Inca Empire (And in some Pre-Inca cultures). Thus, coming from such a far natively Peruvian background, the dance is itself simply a derivation of an ancient Peruvian dance. A fact that may validate this statement are the ancient huacos depicting people resting in zamacueca positions.

African proposal
The African claim is that the Marinera has African roots. African slaves in South America danced the “Zamba culeca”, a dance which later was renamed as the “Zamacueca”. Thus, since the “Zamacueca” derives from African roots, then all dances that derive from it are also of African descent.

Hispanic proposal
Some favor the idea that the ballroom dances of the days of the Viceroyalty (brought from Europe) are what later evolved into the Latin American dances such as the Marinera. According to its supporters, the European rhythms such as “Fandango” and “Cashuas” led to the creation of the Chilean Sajuriana, the Venezuelan Zambo, the Argentine Cielo Gaucho, the Mexican Tas-be, the Colombian Bambuco, the Ecuadorian Amor Fino, and the Peruvian Toro Mata.

Varieties

Peruvian Paso.
Different schools and dancing styles of the Marinera exist, based on location. There are Marinera dance academies all over Peru, and competitions are frequently held. The most important competition is the National Competition of the Marinera (Concurso Nacional de Marinera) held during the National Festival of the Marinera (Festival Nacional de Marinera), held in Trujillo, every January.
The three main variations are the Marinera Limeña, the Marinera Norteña, and the Marinera Serrana. Sometimes the Marinera is danced with a Chalan mounted on a Peruvian Paso (The horse dancing, and the Chalan directing it)
Marinera Limeña
This Marinera is elegant and a little slow-paced in comparison to other variations. The dance can be interpreted in low or high tones. The Marinera of contrapunto or “canto de jarana” usually consists of three Marineras, Resbalosa (Slippery), and a succession of “fugas” (Escapes). Nowadays, the Marinera Limeña seems to be becoming overshadowed by the Marinera Norteña, because of its popular qualities.

marinera

Marinera Norteña
This Marinera had its origins in the Tondero of Piura. It acquired characteristics of the Marinera Limeña, and soon enough it became a new variation of the dance. The dance itself tends to be quick-paced and though not as “elegant” as the Limeña, it can also be very stylish. Even though the dance originated in the Northern coasts of the country, it has become quite popular throughout Peru.
Thanks to that popularity, the Marinera is considered the National Dance of Peru, along with the Peruvian Waltz.

In Marinera Norteña, the man wears shoes, while the woman dances completely barefoot. With constant practice women are even able to dance barefoot on extremely hot pavement and coarse, very rough surfaces, as the soles of their feet become well seasoned and toughened up, something they are really proud of.

“The dancer must go to the dance floor wearing their best clothes but with bare feet, in the same way they did the rural northern girls of the nineteenth century. Being forced to dance barefoot on any surface without showing any discomfort, professional dancers should practice enough to develop thick calluses on the soles of their feet.”

There’s no “Marinera Dress”. Female dancers should wear the typical clothing of the towns where this marinera style is performed. It’s mandatory though that women dance barefoot. For the men it is typical to wear “chalan” clothing, with cotton poncho and wide straw hat. In some places they wear a white drill suit. Men wear black, glossy shoes.

Marinera Serrana
This Marinera is typical from the highland and mountain regions of Peru. It usually has a minor tone and is characterized by a slower movement. This marinera is also repeated twice, and then is followed by a “fuga de huayno”. The second part is more sentimental than the first one.

Here is a short documentary of the dance for you to watch!