'De Inga Y Mandinga' celebrates Peru's rich mixed heritage

From the mighty Incan Empire, to Spanish conquest and African diaspora, Peru has always been a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and traditions.

This weekend, local nonprofit the DE CAJN Project will celebrate Peru's rich mixed heritage in De Inga y Mandinga: An Afro-Peruvian Tribute to Mixed Heritage, a bilingual English-Spanish piece that explores Peruvian mixed-race heritage from an Afro-Peruvian perspective through music, dance and poetry.

"It's the Christmas season, so were going to present the traditions of the people near the southern coast,"said Monica Rojas, director and producer of show and project.

This show will feature world-renowned Afro-Peruvian artists Marina Lavalle, a singer who was instrumental in the resurgence of Afro-Peruvian music in the 1960's.

"She was part of a movement back then to create an afro Cuban identity in Peru," Rojas said.

The show will also feature Miguel Ballumbrosio, a descendent of Peruvian treasure Don Amador Ballumbrosio, and choreographer Pierr Padilla Vasquez, a descendent of one of the most respected dynasties in the Afro-Peruvian artistic community. Professional dancers and the unique Afro-Peruvian band DE CAJN! will also lend their talents to the show.

Rojas founded the DE CAJN Project to educate and raise awareness about the cultural contributions of Peruvians of African descent. The title of her show, "De Inga Y Mandinga," plays a role in further educating audiences about Peru's mixed traditions. The word "Inga" refers to the word "Inca" - a reference made to Peruvian indigenous heritage. "Mandinga," sometimes also referred to as "Mandingo" or "Mandinka" refers to the enslaved West African peoples who were brought to the Americas.

"This show is an opportunity to honor our ancestors and our rich history that embraces indigenous, African and Spanish cultures," Rojas said.

De Inga y Mandinga: An Afro-Peruvian Tribute to Mixed Heritage takes place Dec. 7-8 at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. Tickets available online at Brown Paper Tickets.