Posted by Claretta Mills – MA Candidate at NYU CLACS
Traveling through Cusco in June and seeing numerous rainbow flags, which mark the heritage and pride of the city of Cusco, is a subtle reminder of the desfiles that are going on throughout the city.
“Hay desfiles en el Centro hoy,” was all I needed to hear to know that I would be able to observe some festivities. Religious processions, or desfiles, were in abundance almost daily in Cusco’s city center near Plaza del Armas. The desfiles varied daily as they featured performances from various types of groups and dances. One day may consist of groups of different disciplines from various universities, another consisted of groups from pueblitos within Cusco, and another consisted of various civil groups. Many of the religious processions for Corpus Christi were displays of various statues and shrines of patrimonios hoisted up and carried throughout the procession by about 30 men. The men carrying the Saints would process through the streets dancing and swaying the statue as they walked.
As I observed the various groups, their saints, and performances, one in particular stuck out to me and caused a bunch of questions running through my mind. I immediately reflected and related this particular costume to Blackface and the discussions regarding such that my colleagues and I had in our seminars.
An additional observation that I made while watching the performances was the similarities of the dances throughout the various pueblitos. Though very similar, the performances varied as they had distinctive costumes and waynos tipicos (typical songs).
I really appreciated the announcements of the groups being in both Spanish and Quechua. It allowed me to self analyze just how much Quechua I truly understood. I also appreciated the bilingualism as it demonstrated just how vast the audience of the desfiles was.