Scissors dance

The Scissors dance or Danza de las tijeras is the traditional dance from the Peruvian region of Ayacucho. Today the dance also exists in regions of Huancavelica, Apurimac, Lima and Junin. The music for this dance is performed on violin and harp.

The Peruvian anthropologist, ethnologist and writer José María Arguedas Altamirano (1911-1969) was the first who used the term Scissors dance. He called it that way because of the scissors dancer holds in his right hand. The scissors of different dancers collide during the performance. The scissors are made of two pieces of metal. Each of them is about 25 centimetres long.


Today the dancer of Scissors dance is called the "danzaq". But they were originally known as the "tusuq layka". They were healers or sorcerers in the pre-Hispanic Peru. They suffered a lot after the arrival of Spaniards. Then they were called "supaypa wawan" ( in Quechua “son of the devil”). They were forced to hide in the mountains.

After some time they were allowed to return. They continued their activity through dancing. They started performing according to the Catholicism. There are written proofs stating that the dance existed in Peru of 1600s.

There are different types the Scissors dance. Some of them are competitive. They are known as “atipanakuy", "hapinakuy" etc. The Scissors dance is traditionally divided into several sequences, which differ according to music and dance steps. These sequences are ensayo, tonada, huamanguino, patara (pasta), cascabel, caramuza, and agonía.

Today the dance is performed at various festivities like for example at local Christmas celebrations. The dance became the national cultural heritage in 1995. On the 16th of November, 2010 the UNESCO included it in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.