Customs

UNSAAC Claims the Plaza Today for Glory

UNSAAC and Fans Claims the Plaza (Photo: Dvid Knowlton)

Today, the National University of San Antonio Abad of Cuzco (UNSAAC) takes over the city’s Plaza to present a parade of dances from its various majors, such as law, tourism, accounting, etc.  Each one of the dances presented represents something of Cuzco’s history and traditions.

Every year the UNSAAC prepares to salute Cuzco in its jubilee month, just as the other major institutions of the city.

A Waylaka Mounts the Pile of Jatun Qollas (Poto: David Knowlton)
A Waylaka Mounts the Pile of Jatun Qollas (Poto: David Knowlton)

For weeks before hand, the major organize and try to recruit from their ranks twenty couples who will rehearse arduously to be able to internalize the steps and choreography of the performance.  All this happens while the semester is in course and classes continue.

From very early in the morning today, the groups find themselves either in Cuzco’s Park of Mothers (Parque de la Madre) or in its Plaza Regocijo.  There they wait their turn to enter into the plaza and celebrate the Cuzco’s jubilee month.  When the parade begins, the announcer names the majors and the dance they will perform this year, along with something of the interpretation and origin of the dance. The people along the parade route pay attention to hear the announcements, in excitement for their group to begin its parade.

 Dancing with Vigor to Show Your Major's Worth (Photo: David Knowlton)
Dancing with Vigor to Show Your Major’s Worth (Photo: David Knowlton)

The dancers begin their pasacalle, their promenade through the streets while performing, from the opening of Plateros Street onto the Main Square.

They dance around three sides of the plaza and have to carry out their full choreography at three places, one in front of the reviewing stand. The public, by their reaction will give the verdict of whether the parade is well done or not.

Waiting Their Turn on Plateros (David Knowlton)
Waiting Their Turn on Plateros (David Knowlton)

All of the majors come with their fans organized into barras, as they call them, as if they were the formal supporters and fans of a football team.  They come with flags, confetti, and more.  When their major comes out their excitement peaks and they break into shouts.

The authorities, both of Cuzco and of the University, are on the reviewing stand to watch the dancers go by.

The whole parade today is a single contest.  Only one major will have the pleasure of being named the winner.  For this chance many of the various majors prepare with great commitment and dedication to be able to obtain this award.  Nevertheless, others do it only to please the public and the present their major before the city of Cuzco.

In this way, the fiestas come to their conclusion with the final dance.  Of course before the day began, there was a drawing to see who would be able to enter in which position.  After it is all over, the public will drift away in contentment to continue with their daily lives and await the excitement of next year.

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