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In New Jersey, Rosa Carhuallanqui Keeps Her Culture Alive By Teaching Children Peruvian Folkloric Dance

When Rosa Carhuallanqui imagines the day she was born, she pictures a party. In her childhood home in Huancayo, located in the highlands of Peru, her father was a musician who taught her how to dance. She says “naces bailando en mi pueblo,” you are born dancing in my town.

Carhuallanqui, 50, came to the United States 17 years ago, and her passion for dance traveled with her from South America to Clifton, New Jersey. In her neighboring town of Garfield, she opened Peru Inca Folk, a studio where she teaches children and adults Peruvian folkloric dance.

She noticed that first-generation children of Peruvian parents were losing touch with their heritage and felt a need to do something about it.

“There aren’t many after-school recreational programs in predominantly Latino neighborhoods of New Jersey, so I was looking to change that,” Carhuallanqui tells Fierce.

In her narrow studio decorated with photographs of Peruvian dancers, she teaches marinera, an elegant couple’s dance using handkerchiefs as props. She corrects her students’ footwork with her hands and offers them praises like “muy bien” (“very good”) as they attempt to imitate her swift steps.

Although she is of small stature, Carhuallanqui, dressed in workout leggings and a long-sleeve shirt, can be heard from all corners of the room. Her voice pounds louder than the booming music. Her long black hair is up in a high ponytail that sways from left to right as she demonstrates to the ladies of the class how to move their long colorful skirts while dancing.

(Courtesy of Rosa Carhuallanqui)

In her hometown of Huancayo, her father was the one who primarily raised her and her siblings. Although her dad only had an elementary level education, he made sure his children stayed in school.

“My father was the person who loved music,” she says, remembering her dad’s adoration of family parties. “He was so intense about dance and music in my home.”

At 20, Carhuallanqui enrolled in a dance school to learn Peruvian folkloric movements, while also finishing an anthropology degree at a nearby university. The dance school was in Lima, the capital, which was 12 hours away from her home by bus.

She tells me that women who traveled alone were vulnerable to abuse and theft because members of Sendero Luminoso, a militant group who terrorized small towns like hers in the ‘80s, boarded the buses.

“When I traveled to Lima to be a professional dancer, for me, it’s sometimes a sad moment,” she says, breaking eye contact. “Sometimes I don’t want to remember.”

She goes on, “I knew I had to leave the country if I wanted to make a career out of dancing.”

In 1997, she left with only a small suitcase and her 3-year-old daughter to start life in the U.S.

Rosita, as her students and their parents call her, teaches both children and adults with little to no experience. All of them are Peruvian or of some Peruvian heritage, the children of immigrants and adults who migrated themselves.

(Courtesy of Rosa Carhuallanqui)

Nearby, Paterson is the unofficial capital of the country’s Peruvian diaspora. She opened her studio in a suburb closeby after noticing young Peruvians were losing touch with their roots.

“Ideally what I want to do is expand our culture beyond the mainland, beyond our community. I want non-Peruvian Americans to learn about our culture,” she says.

That’s why Carhuallanqui also teaches elementary school students at a Clifton after-school program about Peruvian dance and instruments.

“Those students are non-Peruvian. I had to push for my program to make it into the after-school care curriculum,” she says.

But she has aspirations to do much more.

“My dream is to start a cultural center where children can learn Peruvian dances, instruments, singing, reading and arts. I want to invite other artists to come in and teach their craft, but I want to be able to pay them for their time so they feel better helping out,” she says. “A lot of these Peruvian artists work during the week doing unrelated jobs, but during the weekends they want to show their talents. They were successful artists in Peru, but the language barrier has stopped them from being artists in this country.”

(Courtesy of Rosa Carhuallanqui)

Carhullanqui is also looking for a bigger studio. On most Saturdays, as many as 20 students squeeze into the small Peru Inca Folk studio. For her, it’s not about the money but rather ensuring that the rich cultural traditions of her country aren’t lost on its progeny in the U.S.

“As an artist, I don’t like the pressure of business. I don’t want to be a money-making machine. I want this to be an art. The dancers have to feel the music, and I want to get my students there,” she said.

Read: A Group Of Women In Oaxaca, Mexico Are Empowering Women To Feel Proud Of Their African Roots Through Dance

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This Latina Is Saving The Indigenous Peruvian Language One Computer Game At A Time

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This Latina Is Saving The Indigenous Peruvian Language One Computer Game At A Time

Peru is a country rich in folklore. From Pachamama, a fertility goddess who sustains life, to Señora de Cao, a warrior queen considered the first female ruler of pre-Hispanic Peru, the South American country is teeming with tales that offer glimpses into the past as well as information and inspiration that could enrich its people’s lives today. Cecilia De La Fuente-Gorbitz doesn’t want these stories, and the cultural knowledge and pride they could induce, to get lost in time, so she started The K’uychi Project.

Launched in 2017, the project, which began as a children’s book, has turned into a multiplatform undertaking that uses technology and didactic materials to teach indigenous Peruvian culture and language.

“I wanted to research Peruvian folktales. I said to myself, ‘kids all over Peru know European folktales like Cinderella and Snow White, yet, in Peru, which has such a rich heritage of these stories, they are virtually unknown,” De La Fuente-Gorbitz, an anthropologist and artist, told FIERCE.

That’s when she started writing “K’uychi and the Awki.” The book, which she plans to self-publish in April, tells the story of K’uychi, a mythical young girl who embarks on a quest to find water after her village has been hit by a drought. On her journey, she meets friendly creatures who guide her to a mountain spirit, the Awki. The bilingual storybook will be available in print with side-by-side text in Quechua and Spanish as well as in digital form in Quechua/Spanish and Spanish/English.

De La Fuente-Gorbitz, who wrote and illustrated the book, also created an accompanying simple-objective, one screen game. Through the K’uychi Mini Game, available on Google Play, users move K’uychi from side to side to help her collect raindrops and avoid Kon, the Peruvian god of rain and wind who became vengeful after humans stopped giving him offerings, from falling on her. During the game, K’uychi says different words in Quechua, like “haylli,” or “bravo,” when she collects a raindrop, or “sonqo,” “heart,” when she gets a red heart. Soon, De La Fuente-Gorbitz, who has computer programming experience, plans on releasing a more advanced, platform game, where the player helps K’uychi complete various levels by using the right Quechua word.

Courtesy of Cecilia De La Fuente-Gorbitz

For the Peruvian-born, New York-based creative, technology, like video games, is both an interactive tool to learn and preserve culture as well as a way to challenge notions that Peruvian traditions are antiquated.

“When people go to Peru, they focus on archaeological sites: museums that show artifacts from so long ago. That’s great, but people need to understand Peruvian culture is not dead, and it doesn’t need to be buried in a museum. It can be a part of the modern world,” she said.

While English is widely considered the language of the modern world, De La Fuente-Gorbitz wants Peruvian youth, many having been taught to abandon the indigenous tongues of their parents or ancestors, to understand that these languages remain spoken throughout South America today. In fact, about 4 million people in Peru speak Quechua, one of the most dominant tongues of the highlands of South America, and about 4 to 8 million more speak the language across the Americas. For her, this is evidence that widely spoken indigenous languages are neither obsolete or outdated.

“Peruvians, even with traditional culture, are also a part of the modern world. We are alive today. People till this day communicate in Quechua, so it’s important to bridge that gap and give a way for these voices that have been isolated from the rest of the world and from people’s eyes through technology,” the 27-year-old said.

De La Fuente-Gorbitz’s primary objective for the project is to offer much-needed representation to Peruvian youth. By sharing little-known parts of their history through characters who look like them and share similar experiences, she hopes it will instill self-confidence and inspire them to fight for the preservation of their culture and language.

“We are a country that for decades, centuries, has been minimized in a way, that has looked out to Europe, or the US more recently, instead of looking at our own national identity and taking pride in it. You can see that in the movies, shows and media we watch,” she said. “And I think that affects people, especially children growing up with images that they are somehow not good enough as they are. They don’t see themselves reflected and are constantly being bombarded with an image they will never be able to attain.”

While the creative started The K’uychi Project for youth in her home country, she believes that it could also benefit children and adults of the Peruvian diaspora. While studying in the United States, De La Fuente-Gorbitz, who is currently interning at the Peruvian embassy in Washington, DC, has noticed that unlike in Latin America, where most people identify by the country they were born in, people in the US, especially Latinxs, don’t often refer to themselves as Americans. Regardless if they were born in the US and only speak English, they largely identify with the nationality of their parents or ancestors, hyphenating themselves as Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans or Colombian-Americans.

For her, this self-identity is a result of diasporic Latinos being othered in their birth country because of the color of their skin, surnames or the cultural practices of their families as well as a disconnection from both the land they know and the faraway one of their predecessors. She believes a project like the one she has created could help them feel more rooted.

“I noticed a lot of Latinos want to understand their roots. They have a real genuine interest to reconnect with the land they or their parents emigrated from, and I feel there’s not that many sources of information for them to do so. So my project could help them feel more pride in themselves, how they look and gain self-confidence, and assert that, ‘I am valuable,’” she said.

She’s already finding proof of its effectiveness. In addition to her book and game, De La Fuente-Gorbitz also has an Instagram account that she uses to teach Quechua through vibrant images that illustrate the meaning of words and share its Spanish and English translations. With terms like “Warmi” (“Woman”), “Puñuy” (“to sleep”) and “Wawa” (“baby”), she is educating followers, many of the Peruvian diaspora, on common vocabulary, numbers and verbs in Quechua. The response, she says, has been all positive, with one fan even telling her that she once felt ashamed for not knowing her ancestors’ native language and now feels like she has an outlet where she is able to relearn and return to what was lost.

De La Fuente-Gorbitz, who herself is not a native Quechua-speaker and has leaned on a friend, Helberth, for translations, says she hopes to expand The K’uychi Project and create bilingual stories, games and language lessons in the indigenous tongues of Peru’s coastal, Amazonian and Andean regions.

For her, linguistic diversity makes us as a people smarter, stronger and more united.

“The way we think, our worldview, has to do with the language we speak. We can learn so many different things and broaden our horizons just by understanding someone else’s point of view, and this wouldn’t be possible if we restrict native language use and restrict people’s identities,” she said.

“K’uychi and the Awki” will be available for purchase in Peru and online spring 2019.

Read: In New Jersey, Rosa Carhuallanqui Keeps Her Culture Alive By Teaching Children Peruvian Folkloric Dance

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This Little Girl’s Professional Dance Moves For Cardi B’s ‘I Like It’ Will Blow Your Trap Loving Bum Away

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This Little Girl’s Professional Dance Moves For Cardi B’s ‘I Like It’ Will Blow Your Trap Loving Bum Away

Ever since Cardi B dropped her hit ‘I Like It’ we have been simultaneously slayed to our core and stuck to our seats with anticipation for it’s accompanying music video. With life-giving videos like “Bartier Cardi” and “Be Careful” having already been delivered to us, we’re expecting nothing but pure hot gold from la chica de el Bronx. But, with the word still out on when the video will debut we’ve been on a hunt for videos to satiate our thirst in the meantime. In our quest, we came across a spectacular treasure trove of choreography videos made all over the world just for the song.

Check out these stunning ‘I Like It’ dance odes, that are tiding us over until Cardi’s official video drops.

South Korean studio 1 Million Dance serves los ultra movimientos

May J Lee is the lead choreography behind this South Korean-based dance studio. She’s the lead dancer in the first few moments of the dance routines and let me tell she RIPS it up. Try to keep us with this chica and her dance crew as they wipe the floor with your dropped jaw.

Brinn Nicole’s moves exude vibes from your family’s backyard parties

Okay, okay so the showy prima of your family might not be bringing as much power as the women in this video, but ya know she sure wish she could. Brinn Nicole Gooch is the Latina choreographer behind these moves created at the Millennium Dance Complex in Hollywood, CA. How these girls hit the floor with their heels and bounce back for incredible jump kicks is beyond me. These moves are on point, literally.

The little girl in this video sets the house on fire with her attitude and grooves.

All of the dancers in this video know how to hit it in this video but  Payton Ali is the little girl at the 4:11 mark you’ve gotta watch. She’s only 9 years old, but she could keep up the hustle of a tough salsa/trap routine better than most. Her dance moves were created by Guy Amir “Guy Groove,” but there’s no doubting the skill and push she puts into “I Like It” are all her.

This India-based dance troupe just got served la salsa

Alan Rinawma brought Cardi to Mizo Dance Camp, an academy based in Mizoram, India. These kids stun and shine throughout this interview video proving the dance scene in India is HOT. Where’s my pen y’all I’m signing up for a class.

This ATL-based dance studio couldn’t wait for a video so they made their own.

This dance group went all in on their love for this song. With shiny lights, high kicks and mad hair whips it’s obvious this crew invested more than just time and heart into Cardi B’s chart-topping hit. Not only did they go in 110% with their moves they also brought a production value that did not come to play.

This video brings all the pop and drop you forgot this song needed.

The pop lock and drop, the hustle, even the bend and snap can be spotted in this performance. These dancers maneuver the floor with ease and all at the tip of their toes. No doubt their hair whips and jump kicks will have you clicking the replay button to learn the best way to  dance to this song the next time you’re in the club.

This dance duo truly leans into the salsa component of  the song.

Ah, the classic dance steps your tías and mom have been trying to get you to master for the past 20 nochebuenas are present in full force in this video to put all your primas to shame. Brittany Cherry and her partner Paul Karmiryan bring the classic baile to Cardi’s trap hit with dances whirls that’ll have your head spinning.

Read: Cardi B Didn’t Do The Red Carpet At Last Night’s Latin Music Awards But She Slayed In Heels For The Show

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