Many public and private organizations celebrate their home city, Cuzco, in its jubilee month by parading through the main square offering traditional dances for the public. One of these institutions which every year salutes Cuzco in the month of June is the great elementary and secondary school, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. It organized a day of dance troupes that, in a parade, thrilled Cuzco with all the different offerings of its various grades and sections.
All the students worked hard to participate in this event, as did their families. It is a highlight for Cuzco where this school has educated for decades a substantial percentage of the male population. People greet this parade with great civic and school pride. From the smallest children to the oldest and the teachers, the school danced in honor of Cuzco.
Each section is guided by someone responsible (un asesor) who is a teacher given the obligation of directing a section for special days. Various sections compose a grade. The task of organizing the troupe is carried out with the necessary help of the students’ parents. They choose a dance to represent their section and then formally list it as a group for performance.
During the weeks before June 19th, the students of Garcilaso, called Garcelasianos, prepare themselves physically by rehearsing their dances regularly in order to perform to the fullest in Cuzco’s Main Square. There they will show off their choreography to the judges and an excited public.
The first to enter into the Plaza are the smallest children, early in the morning. They salute Cuzco in its celebration of itself. They dance with grace and charm. Everyone in attendance cannot help but be enchanted. Nevertheless, some of the children get overwhelmed and with tears break rank and run looking for their parents.
The parade continues: dance after dance with different names and choreographies. The 14 sections from each grade pass by, one after another, making an immense train of dancers that continues all the way to the end of the Sun Avenue.
When I was young, I studied in Garcilaso. I still remember the eleven consecutive years in which I danced in the parade. We danced different dances and used constantly varying choreographies. I can’t deny having seen my mates in other sections having to dance the haylacas. In this dance the boys dance through the street dressed in skirts. They converse playfully with the people along the way in falsetto, often saying “hu carajo” or “Oh F*%$”.
This year was the 62nd anniversary of this venerable institution. It will continue saluting Cuzco in its jubilee month with a whole range of dances and music as the children and youth perform complex choreographies to enchant Cuzco’s people and also with the huaylacas, a kind of clowns, who can never be missing.