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Contributor: Juwon Ogungbe
PERU NEGRO @ the Queen Elizabeth hall

Apart for the much celebrated African sub-culture of Brazil, not much is heard, in the UK, about the African Diaspora of Latin America. So it was a treat to witness a show by the Afro-Peruvian troupe ? Peru Negro.

The ensemble consisted of a band with two girl singers and a dance corps featuring ten to twelve dancers. The music reminded me of Zairean rhumba or a mixture of flamenco and West African rhythm using mainly guitars and percussion with call and response vocal passages.

A feast for the eyes, the visual impact of the show was exhilarating with sinuous dancing , graceful motions and colourful costumes (some exquisite, some dire), comic turns, masque performances and some nail-biting moments such as when the dancers attempted to burn each other?s backsides with candles. They have a dance step technique similar to the tap but danced in shoes with cuban heels.

I found the music sometimes monotonous and the singers occasionally uncertain with their intonation, and I came away wishing the sonic aspect could have been more adventurous. On the plus side, the drummers were fabulous in their mastery of the polyrythm. This aspect of the show demonstrates that the Afro-Peruvians are still very much in touch with the expressive vocabulary of their African ancestors.
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