What would you expect from a cultural festival in Port Chester, a village where half the population is foreign-born and the Latino population draws from every corner of the hemisphere?
Port Chester Fest, on May 22, is aiming to live up to the community’s own diversity, and you can expect quite the array of cultures.
For example: There will be a “tijeras” or scissors dance, a competitive, gymnastics-like performance from the highlands of southern Peru. Walter Velille and Luis Aguilar are pictured here with harp player Alejandro Velasco and his brother Ignacio on violin.
Tom van Buren, director of Folk Arts and Performance Programs at ArtsWestchester, helped identify performers that reflect the area’s immigrant traditions. Here’s his description of the tijeras performers and th dance he calls “traditional Peruvian break dancing”:
“Walter Velille, whose stage name is Qesqento (the name of a cicada native to Peru) is one of the foremost dancers of this style in the New York region and has lived in Port Chester for over five years. He grew up in Lima, the capital of Peru, in a family from Apurima in the southern Andean region. He learned the tijeres dance from elders in his family. His father was also a Tijeras dancer and later played the violin for dancers during community events. Later, Walter had the opportunity to teach the dance to apprentices in a program of the Museo de la Nación. He has performed this dance in Europe, China and Japan, and has also performed widely in the United States since 2002, when he attended a native American gathering in Seattle. He has performed many times for the UN conference on Indigenous peoples. He will be performing with Luis Aguilar “Paccaricha” (Quechua for ‘Tomorrow’).”
Another act is Grupo Ujyuna, a group of Bolivian musicians in Port Chester who play Andean flutes (see a video here).
Read on for the list of groups taking part in the festival. For more on the event, click here.
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