By Edgardo Civallero | Sara Plaza
The k'achampa or kachampa (probably from Quechua k'achanpa, "swaying the body from side to side") is a Peruvian dance whose origins are lost in the mist of time. Some folklorists claim that it might be an Inca tradition. Besides, taking into account the martial air of the music that accompanies the dance, it has been suggested that it would have been performed by warriors. Today, the dance is widely spread across the Peruvian Central Sierra, including the departments of Cuzco and Apurímac.
Among the featured characters are a caporal, two captains, several soldiers and some "mascots" or dancing children. Their costumes are very elaborate and consist of a round flat-topped hat or montera, a ch'ullu (Andean wool hat with earflaps), a plait embellished with small mirrors and bells, a mask and a headkerchief; a white shirt, a black tie, a felt vest and a blue dress coat; several warakas or slingshots and a couple of chuspas or small wool bags; white gloves; a pair of black knee length shorts, and white socks and shoes.
The march music form that accompanies the k'achampa is played by the so called "war band", consisting of two pitos or traverse flutes, bombo (drum) and tambor (snare drum). Sometimes the quenas take the place of the pitos. There is a "standard" melody for the dance, which varies slightly according to the place where it is performed (on occasions exaggerated and distorted by some modern musical groups).
In Ollantaytambo (province of Urubamba, department of Cuzco) it is performed annually on January 6, while in the region of Paucartambo (province of Paucartambo, department of Cuzco) the dance is associated with the celebrations in honour of the Virgin of Carmen towards mid July; perhaps the latter is the one that best pays homage to the traditional way of performing this music and dance.
Article. Asociación Danza Kachampa de la Virgen del Carmen [es].