- A South American-style outdoor fireplace, or fogón, on the National Mall. Hot dogs and charqui de raya, a dish similar to beef jerky but made from stingray meat. La Marinera, a classic Peruvian dance, against the backdrop of the Washington Monument. All of these unexpected pairings, and many more, will be found this summer at the 2015 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, a 10-day annual party on the National Mall that each year celebrates the homegrown cultures of a few different countries or U.S. regions. This year, the festival features Perú, including some U.S. residents from the greater Washington area.
The festival, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, will run from June 24-28 and July 1-5, and include live performances, discussion panels, workshops, Peruvian food stands, and much more.
Download festival map from Smithsonian website.
Two of the ten days —June 29 and July 5—are designated “Festival Community Days” and will spotlight the experiences of Peruvians in the United States. Naturally, Peruvians who reside in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area will play an important role, bringing the local voice to an international event.
“The topics covered on June 29 and July 5 will be centered around immigration and migration, identity and other such things that resonate with the local Peruvian community,” says Alexia Fawcett, the community engagement officer for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.
To come up with the Festival Community Days’ program, the Center invited members of the U.S. Peruvian community to join a Community Advisory Group. Fawcett says it “was important to Peruvians living in the US.”
Here are some of the local groups that will be present at the Folklife Festival.
Centro Cultural Perú
June 28 – 2:45 p.m. at the Plaza
Centro Cultural Perú, a nonprofit organization based in Virginia with the goal of “spread Peruvian culture and music to the kids who are born in the United States, but still want to carry the Peruvian tradition on,” said Centro Cultural Perú’s secretary Rosanna Gutierrez.
On June 28, Centro Cultural Peru students will dance and play traditional Peruvian instruments, such as the cajón, a traditional Peruvian percussion instrument shaped like a box.
“When most people think of Perú, they think of Machu-Pichu, but Machu-Pichu is not the only interesting thing in Perú,” Gutierrez said. “We are proud of it. We want to show what Perú is all about—we have a rich culture, we have beautiful dances, we have such unique instruments, and we want to share all this with people.”
To learn more about Centro Cultural Perú, visit its website.
June 28 – 11:45 a.m. on La Juerga
June 5 – 11:45 a.m. on La Juerga
Grupo Etnia, a Peruvian music group with members from Rockville, Gaithersburg and Germantown, will perform on both Community days. Similar to Centro Cultural Perú, Grupo Etnia’s mission is to showcase the diversity of sound within Peruvian culture.
“We cover a wide range of styles,” the group’s violinist, Fernando Cadrejo, said. “We want everybody to see the distinction between what is traditional in the Andes compared to what is traditional in the rainforest, and more. Hopefully, we can transfer the message that each region has.”
Cadrejo will also participate in the opening ceremony taking place at 10:30 a.m. at Rasmuson Theater on June 24. The ceremony will consist of approximately 100 performers playing Peruvian instruments.
To learn more about Grupo Etnia, visit its Facebook page and check out the band’s music.
Read Hola Cultura’s story about the band.
June 28 – 2:45 p.m. on El Hablador
Todavia Somos is a theater performance based on Jose Maria Argueda’s poem “A Nuestro Padre Creador Tupac Amaru.”
The cultural group that created it, Abya Yala Arte y Cultura, is based in New York City. According to their website, they strive to “present diverse art projects that maintain Andean cultural expressions and promote cultural awareness” in whatever capacity possible. They host events, put on workshops and sell merchandise in order to ensure the survival of the Andean narrative in pop culture.
The play, which combines theater with live music, dance and spoken word, is “a theatrical interpretation of questions of identity, how people feel being in the US and how they keep their connections to Perú,” Fawcett said.
For more information on Abya Yala Arte y Cultura, visit its website.