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Creating Meaning Through Art: Two Women Enriching Peruvian Culture in Winnipeg

Alexandra Mojorovich and Ana La Rosa

People leave much behind when they begin a new life. They leave behind friends, family, homes, jobs, and sometimes ourselves. 

Two Peruvian women created the Inka Warriors Dance Group to celebrate and engage with other Peruvians while teaching and engaging other communities of Winnipeg about their history, language, and traditions. Culture is a vital component of the human experience, and when people move to a new country, a piece of the cultural experience is left behind. Maintaining those experiences is a precarious balancing act, trying to fit into new cultural norms and customs while finding time to engage in one’s roots.

For some newcomers, it’s all too easy to lose connection to their homes; as their kids become more engaged and integrated into their new home, retaining cultural practices and traditional languages becomes even more difficult to maintain. Cultural spaces open the door to celebration and preservation, creating a space of familiarity.

Alexandra Mojorovich and Ana La Rosa co-founded the dance group to represent Peru through their art. In one year, what started as a dance studio now encompasses the mediums of singing, animation, holding events, and even ventriloquism.

“We have a variety of skills,” says Mojorovich, “We’re all women, so part of the process is us empowering them and creating a nice friendship, team, and a good representation of Peru.”

Of the 34 million who call Peru home, 8-9 million, approximately 40 percent, identify as Indigenous to the region; of the roughly 60 Indigenous groups, the two most prominent are the Quechua and Aymara peoples. Like many Indigenous populations, they have experienced tremendous hardships and discrimination through the process of colonialization. Although Peru’s practices and cultures have been heavily influenced by European colonialization, some individuals are trying to understand and respect the country’s historical culture. Mojorovich and La Rosa understand the colonial context of their country, employing their art to articulate the stories of Peru before colonial influence while engaging in what Peruvian culture is today.

“It’s important to recognize them as part of our main culture,” La Rosa remarks. She adds that countries that have experienced colonization should look at the various cultures, preserving the ancestral cultures and traditions and embracing the positives of modern diversity. “We are very proud of our Indigenous roots and our Spanish roots as well.”

Through their art and by bringing the Hispanic community together, Mojorovich and La Rosa hope to engage and inform people about the history and culture of Peru. It’s not uncommon to have someone ask where they are from, and when they find out Peru, they exclaim, “Oh, the place with Machu Picchu,” but for the two women, their country means much more than that. 

“We have Machu Picchu definitely, says Mjorovich, “but we also have a variety of attractions. We have the coasts, the Andes, and the Amazon. We also have a variety of foods, products, and dances that are attractive for tourism. So we have the chance to guide them through what is South American.”

However, the goal isn’t simply to teach about Peruvian culture but to open the door for people to experience community and learn about each other. For anyone interested in learning about dance, music, or language, Mojorovich and La Rosa are excited to teach them. 

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

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