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Video Clip: the northern coast

Competencia Nacional de Marinera (Chiclayo)

Click on the photo to view

Death of the Pope, Birth of our Script

Saturday we reviewed the editing script, huddled around Raul's table - myself, Ronnie, Sergio, Raul, Cynthia. It seemed like a landmark day - actually seeing our story on paper, the long-awaited roadmap Sergio needs to move forward. Later that day we found out the Pope had passed away during our meeting. I don't know, it seemed prophetic or least at the time!

Presentation at Teachers College/Columbia U.

We're a part of the Education Across the Americas at Teachers College/Columbia University this Mand "Soy Andina" is the showcase video. We'll show our trailer from last year, plus a few stunning (if I say so myself) new clips. I won't be there but Nelida will, to dance and answer questions afterwards. I don't really need to be there - all the questions go to Nelida and Cynthia anyway!

April 1, , 5-6 PM:
Movie & Performance: Soy Andina
Milbank Chapel, 125 Main Hall
120th West Street between Broadway and Amsterdam

The Blurb:

New York and Lima

Lima is a "melting pot" - a place where people come from different places and New York. And these places are very important, where different cultures collide, a juxtaposition of tradition and modernity. From this comes innovation.

And it's here in the cities that people start to think about the social context of their situation, of their traditions... And they have to express it. The traditions feed the innovation.

The biggest thing in common between New York and Lima is the relationship between dance and the street.

I feed off the street - and the street feeds off me. When I dance something with a social message, I want to perform in the street. Because there I get a reaction from the street that's "real." And from that I get more information that feeds my understanding, my message.

It's the same with hip-hop. If I'm doing hip-hop, it's in the streets. The street IS the dance. The Campo IS the dance. It's all about where we are from. It's an attitude. It's how you breath and move here.

Easter Weekend in Lima

Limeños who could afford it escaped to the beach this long holiday weekend. I'd never seen Barranco (my district) so peaceful. Reminded me of New York during Memorial Day, July 4 or Labor Day. Doris and I stayed around and it was good. Miguel Villafane was in town and we met up Friday night - he's the Puerto-Rican based filmmaker I met at NALIP conference two years ago. We took him to San Antonios. This place is a Limeñan institution. Terrific giant salads (a rarity here), deserts, sandwiches and tamals in a setting that reminds me of a Denny's or a Greek diner - and I mean that in the positive sense, meaning fast service, comfy booths, air conditioning, clean bathrooms.

Saturday night Miguel invited us to see Wakuyani, a political theater group that's been performing for 30 years. We capped off the evening with a very late pollo a la brasa. The next day Doris invited me to go to Las Flores for her brother's birthday, but I begged off. I chose to be the neurotic workaholic New Yorker drinking overpriced coffee drinks at the sanitized Starbucks. I have gotten over my shame of doing so. Some of the regulars were there, including a group of three American clean-cut college guys wearing "Jesus Rocks" t-shirts.

eNewletter Feb 2005 Update: Going the Extra Mile


>>>S O Y A N D E - N E W S <<<

E-news about the making of "Soy Andina"
A dazzling documentary/dance journey from NY to Peru



Hello everyone. We have a request: Does anyone have excess frequent
flyer mileage they would be willing to donate to the film?

e-Newsletter Jan 2005: Editing in Peru

S O Y A N D E - N E W S

E-news about the documentary “Soy Andina”

A dazzling dance journey from New York to Peru


Jan 2005 Issue #15


“I’ve been trying to quench the need to find the part of me that I KNOW is buried in the mystery of these dances. It turned out to be harder than I thought. I’m not considered “Peruvian” here. I’m this “gringa” (ugh!) and sometimes not taken seriously...” - Cynthia in Lima, Dec 04

“I not only understand your frustration, I completely relate to it - as you are the “cute gringa,” I was “la serrana” (from the mountains). If I can survive Lima, girl, so can you.” - Nelida in New York, Dec 04

(Excerpts from the new blog. Find out what Cynthia decides to do, and Nelida’s Lima Survival Tips, at )

NELIDA: Thoughts on the Concurso, Update on the Bull…

It must be exciting for Cynthia to go to Piura for the contest. Concursos are good to see the variety of choreography and the large amount of dancers, but personally I was never attracted to participate in them, mainly because there are winners and losers like in a sport, and the winner is "the best" just in the eyes of few people who are the judges and may believe themselves to be the gurus. But also because in my opinion it distorts the meaning of dance as spiritual and ceremonial & transforms it into "I wanna be the champion," which I think is more an Occidental approach.

Our Next Film?

I recently took a couple of days break from Soy Andina to collaborate with a team of people here to submit a film proposal for National Geographic on the Lamista community in the Amazon:

Heading north

Things are changing again, fast. Cynthia got invited to compete in the concurso for Tondero, a national competition for this Afro-Peruvian dance. A week from Sunday, January 9. It's in Chiclayo, about 12 hours north on the coast (by bus), but she'll be in Piura training, 2-3 hours north of that. We have to shoot it. It could be the main drama or hook of her story or even entire film. It's another week and at least $500, more time and money, I feel nervous about that. Actually the money most of all. Sergio's taking a 3 month leave of absence from his job to edit. I've got the money in the bank to pay him for January but beyond. Money's got to come in. That's serious.

My Christmas in Peru

I spent Xmas eve in Lima but celebrated it Andean-style, dancing huaynos until 3 am with the Loaza family (who are from Llamellin). The next morning we ate turkey and ham from Llamellin, and discussed the merits of living in Oklahoma, where a Peruvian they know is living. From the Amazon, actually. I learned she feels out of place. I wonder why...

NELIDA: Letter to Cynthia

Dear Cynthia:

I have to thank Mitch for sharing your feelings with me. Well, Lima can be tough. I like to mix my thoughts looking for explanations why many of the Limeños are the way they are (including the ones who were born in Lima as well as the ones living there for many years, the so-called Limeños, but Provincianos). I like to think that they are so grey as their climate because they were punished by the God Sun due to their lack of community, sharing & compassion; but also I like to think the other way around, that the mischievous God Sun "no le da la gana de resplandecer en Lima" is the reason why limenos are so grey.

But good news: Lima no es todo el Peru y no todos los peruanos somos Limeños o nos portamos igual.

I not only understand your frustratation, I completely relate to it - as you are the "cute gringa," I was "la serrana." Now you have a great picture why I am happy in New York. Although people may say that New York can be tough, I love it because I can be just "Nelida."

Burden of Dreams

I was lucky to find the book "Burden of Dreams" at the South American Explorers library in Lima. It's a compilation of essays and journals about the making of the documentary "Burden of Dreams" by Les Blank, Maureen Goesling and others, which in turn was about the making of Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" in the Peruvian Amazon 25 years ago. All these connections. I spoke with Maureen in San Francisco in November at the Film Arts Foundation gala. Discovered we knew mutual people in Lima. And her beautiful film Blossoms of Fire is one of a dozen I brought with me to Lima to show editors (hmm, I oughta post that list of films as a blog). And of course the whole idea of journaling and sharing the process of making a film, well I'm hardly the first! (Doug Block being a notable example, and now Les and Maureen). Except in those days the didn't have blogs or Internet for instant publishing.

NELIDA: Life in (and out of) Port Chester

Dear Mitch:

I am also not feeling well. I had to go to the Doctor again. It's weird because I don't remember being so sick since I left Lima for the very first time. I think my immune system went down in Port Chester, you know the town of the "machismo." People are completely unpredictable, and since words doesn't exist, you never know what their agendas are.

My only happy moments when I don't go to the city and meet our friends are when I spent time with Omar's kids, specially with Maira the genius, who by the way, is the Number One student in science in Greenwich.

Fiesta Patronal in Arpa

We went to both parties - the more posh one in "Club Ancash" in Jesus Maria, and the earthier one in Arpa, about 45 minutes north. I had gleaned from Neli and others' description that Club Ancash would be boring or somber, with lots of older people in suits and ties afraid to let loose. But when we got there the band was playing, people were dancing, the beer was flowing.

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Still, it felt confining, being in an indoor place....Cynthia came with us! Important for the film, she was crossing over into Neli's world. Seeing her dance huayno in both places, you could see the difference. She technically knows the step but there's something different, it doesn't really flow, which she can describe better than I can. Unfortunately I don't have any still photos of Cynthia, damn yo, as she would say, I forgot to tell Medalid to take photos of her.

Stayed there an hour to videotape; Then grabbed a taxi, we headed up to Arpa, and that was another world, passing through the pueblo jovenes (shantytowns) of Lima via the Pan American highway, arriving at the place, a huge dusty dirt field. At this point I ought to be sharing a lot more about what we saw and felt, but I'll just post a few photos here 'cause frankly I've got too much worries on my mind right now to reflect on this party. Grumpy grumpy...

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Cynthia Paniagua (New York)

Ballet Folklorico Peru (Paterson

Peru Profundo (Chicago)


Turn Right at Machu Picchu

The White Rock

American Chica

Faces of Celebration: Photographs of Peru

Shaping Society through Dance

The Guinea Pig: Healing, Food, and Ritual in the Andes


John Cohen

Danzak (Gabriela Yepes)

Cooking up Dreams (Guarango)


Fertur Travel Peru

Lima Tours

South American Explorers - Peru


NEWS (in English)

Peruvian Times


Mayu Hand-knit Alpaca

BarSol Pisco