The Scissor’s dancer


Like if he had been possesed, the danzaq shakes frantically, crashing in the air, with an incredible skill, the scissors. It is said that he has a pact with the devil, that he feels no pain, that he is capable of mediate between man and nature, that he gains strength from the wamanis and the apus, gods of the snowy covered mountains and andean lagoons. Like every 24 of december, they have come to all the towns in Huancavelica to praise the the little Jesus Christ.

The Scissors dance, considered by UNESCO an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” since 2010, is performed by the danzaqs, men that descend from the “tusuq laylas”, pre hispanic soothsayers and healers that were persecuted during the colonial times, leaving them with no other choice but to shelter in the high areas of the Ande. With time, colonizers accepted their return but with the condition that they would only dance to the saints and the god of the Catholic Church, starting the tradition that goes on every patronal feast. Peruvian writer José María Arguedas immortalized the mysticism of the danzaq in his novel “The Agony of Rasu Ñiti”.

And every year, from december 24th to 27th, the traditional Atipanacuy takes place in different areas of Huancavelica -and other regions of the central Andes and southern Peru-, dance competitions that face the danzaqs and their orchestras, that count with an harpist and a violinist. The dancer, dressed with a particular outfit and shaking the two 25 centimeters long pieces of metal -the scissors-, performs many jumps and acrobatic moves, executing different kinds of challenges in which, a lot of times, he must defeat  the pain and suffering that he self inflicts, as a test of his courage and strength. If you are close to Huancavelica during Christmas days you can not miss them. They are one of the most authentic expressions of the culture of the Andes.