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The Danza de las tijeras (English: scissors dance, Quechua: Supaypa wasin tusuq, also Galas, laijas) is an original dance from the south of the Andes, in Peru. The dance consists of two or more dancers, followed by their respective orchestras of a violin and a harp. The dancers dance in turns, doing explicit moves and challenging steps, such as dancing with just one foot.
The scissors dance can be of different types, for example the greater or competition dance, the smaller dance or "Qolla alva" which is danced at night; and zapateos, executed in the Christmas festivities. In the competition dance, two dancers (also called "danzaq" or "tusuq") dance by turns challenging each other to overcome the risk of the steps they perform, this competition is known as "Atipanakuy", "Hapinakuy", "Tupanakuy" among others.
The scissor dancers are identified with ritual skill and challenge from the outsider’s point of view. Basically, the scissors dance is an impressive manifestation of physical art and skills, but to the Andean man it represents a complex ritual. A series of mysteries stalk around the dancers (the ones who do the ritual) who, in a surge of force and elasticity, test their skills with the gymnastics-like jump at the sound of a harp and a violin, while they cut the air with their scissors.
According to the priests of the colony, its magical side obeys to an assumption pact with the devil, due to surprising moves or tests that they execute in the dance. This tests denominate Atipanacuy.
The central instrument of the dance is the elaborated scissors of two independent metal plates of approximately 25 cm, and when the two plates are fused, they make a shape of blunt-end scissors. In pre-columbian times flat stones were used, the scissors replace them because of the similar sound they make when the sides clash. It is seen as a great dishonor to the dancer if the scissors fall from his hand while dancing.