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This weekend was jam packed, but one of the highlights was definitely a trip to Lima’s Teatro Nacional to see Retablo de Candelaria, (I have attached a link so you can read about the show and watch a video of some of the songs and dances). In Peru, a Retablo is an intricate ornament consisting of a small cupboard with doors which open up to a delicately carved and brightly coloured scene. This show is inspired by this theme, which comes to Lima once a year, with huge stage doors which open up onto a vibrant cornucopia of singers, dancers and costumes depicting the local traditions of different parts of Peru.

The show which I attended was about Puno, a southern Peruvian town next to the shores of Lake Titicaca. The first few songs, which I infinitely preferred, were sung in Quechua, the costumes inspired by original Peruvian weavings. Imagine thirty people on a stage wearing, almost florescent waste coats and frilly skirts whirling around the stage shouting and cheering in Quechua to the sound of a full band, complimented by, at least five pan pipe players.

As the show went on, the music changed chronologically, with the slow introduction of songs in Spanish, Catholicism and extremely glitzy costumes. It was truly incredible with, Peruvian style morris dancers leaping around the stage, and actors in huge headdresses signifying different characters. There was also some classic Peruvian comedy, with the grim reaper intimidating the audience, a horned harlot running around flashing her knickers and two big dancing beers falling in love.

The music was truly incredible, evolving from the beautiful sound of panpipes to a full brass section accompanying the beautiful dance troupe. I would live to give the panpipes a try if I get the chance!

Amelia Steele

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