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The Offering

Length: 7 min.
Age Level: 8+
Place: Peru

The Offering documents a pre-celebration ritual associated with Peru's unique Quechua Danza de Tijeras, or “Scissor Dance." The traditional Quechua dance, some believe, was created as an Indigenous form of protest against Spanish imperialism.

The Andean dance was practiced by Indigenous healers and fortune-tellers as a means of communication with pre-Christian divinities. The dancers today wear colorful clothing ornamented with fringe and sequins and wield iron rods that resemble scissors which they clang rhythmically alongside the fiddle and harp. This acrobatic performance, reminiscent of modern break-dancing, is challenging, as the dancer completes it on one foot. The ceremonial invocation that precedes the dance honors Incan deities, including the earth mother Pachamama.

European settlers viewed the trance-like performance as an act of devil worship. Eventually, colonizers managed to incorporate the scissor dance into Christian rituals. The dance is a staple of Quechuan Catholic festivities and villages turn out to cheer on the cuadrillas (teams) in marathon competitions. To this day, the dancers are forbidden to enter a church while in traditional dress.

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