The cultural collective Peru Art International scored top honors in the ultra-competitive dance competition at this year’s second annual FusionFest, winning the $1,000 grand prize bestowed by a panel of expert judges. Peru Art was recognized for a vibrant presentation that incorporated the dance styles of several nations, symbolizing the kaleidoscope of heritages the festival brought to downtown Orlando November 30 and December 1.
The organization’s winning performance featured a total of 24 dancers, including children, teenagers and adults. Colorful costumes and kinetic energy took the audience on a tour through the movement traditions of Peru, Colombia, Korea, Russia, Africa and the U.S.A., with helpful signage establishing the geography of each vignette.
In addition to the group’s winning contest entry, its younger children (or “semillitas”) exhibited a Peruvian dance called “Huaylarsh.” And Peru Art also made its presence known with contributions to the festival’s fashion segment, including a design by their director and dance instructor, Italo Alvinez, that combined the looks of Peru and Egypt. All in all, it was quite a showing for the organization, which was new to FusionFest but is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
Peru Art committee member and dancer Tracy Morales Vallejos says FusionFest was “truly a great experience” for their group. “Although our presentations were on Sunday, we were also there Saturday to witness the different cultures and the diversity our city has to offer,” she says. “It was beautiful to see the unique beauty in all cultures, but even more so seeing them all come together.”
More than 100 local heritage communities were represented at this year’s festival, which drew approximately 15,000 people to downtown for two days of dance, music, food, art and other creative demonstrations that built a bridge between the participating cultures. For Peru Art director Alvinez, such undertakings are crucial as immigrants to our area seek a balance between identity and assimilation:
“Our community, as well as many Latin communities, when they arrive in other countries are adopting customs of other cultures,” Alvinez says. “And that enriches this state, because we see how we are mixing/fusing. We need to create these types of festivals to partially rescue something that is wasting (away) over time. Our goal is to transmit to the new generations our rich culture even while being far away from our country.
“Thank you for the opportunity and space to express ourselves.”
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