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Peruvian Waltz: Vals Peruano or Vals Criollo

Sharing the ¾ time signature of the Viennese waltz, the Peruvian version also plays on themes of love and loss, but as this video shows, both the music and the steps have  a more vigorous,  staccato style than the traditional European dance.

The melody is played on traditional Spanish guitar accompanied by the cajón, a wooden box percussion instrument played with the hands. Afro-Peruvian singers have dominated this genre of music. The most famous exponent of the Vals Peruano is Lucha Reyes, who took the style to the rest of Latin America in the 1950s, and made it a source of national pride. Her manic and tragic life mirrored the themes of heartbreak in her songs.

The band Peru Negro has modernized Vals Criollo and their stage shows are extremely popular.

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Authored by: Rick Hind

Rick Hind is an Australian journalist who took the plunge two years ago with his partner Anna to explore a new continent and learn Spanish along the way. In the last two years he’s trekked in the Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash, explored the Amazon in an open canoe, hiked through Patagonia, tangoed in Buenos Aires and learned to surf in Lima. Peruvian cuisine has captured his heart, and he’s still trying to master ceviche, rocoto relleno and make the perfect pisco sour.

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