Victoria Santa Cruz

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Victoria Santa Cruz
Born(1922-10-27)October 27, 1922
DiedAugust 30, 2014(2014-08-30) (aged 91)
OccupationChoreographer, composer, activist

Victoria Eugenia Santa Cruz Gamarra (27 October 1922 - August 30, 2014)[1] was an Afro-Peruvian choreographer, composer, and activist.

Victoria Santa Cruz would go on to be called "the mother of Afro Peruvian dance and theatre."[2] Along with her brother, Nicomedes Santa Cruz, she is credited as significant in a revival of Afro-Peruvian culture in the 1960s and 1970s. They both came from a long-line of artists and intellectuals. For her part she is said to have had "Afrocentrism" influences in her view of dance trying to discover "ancestral memory" of African forms. She helped to found the Cumanana company.[3]


Cruz was born in Lima, Peru. Her father was Nicomedes Santa Cruz Aparicio and her mother was Victoria Gamarra. Her Mom spoke only Spanish and loved to dance.[4] Cruz started working on stage with the group Cumanana (1958) where she worked with her younger brother Nicomedes Santa Cruz Gamarra, another famous poet.

She received a scholarship by the French government and traveled to Paris to study choreography. Here, she succeeded as the creator and designer of the wardrobe for the play El Retablo de Don Cristóbal by Federico García Lorca.

Back in Peru, she founded the dance company Teatro y Danzas Negras del Perú, with whom she presented many shows in national theaters and television. This group represented Peru in the festivities for the occasion of the Olympic Games in Mexico, 1968 where they received a medal and diploma for their work.

Later, in 1969 she left on a tour to different cities in the United States and when she came back to Lima in May, she was named director of the Centro de Arte Folclórico, today Escuela de Folklore. In the first Festival and Latin American Seminary of Television organized by Catholic University of Chile in 1970 she won the award for the best folklorist, and the next year she was invited by the government of Colombia to participate in the Festival of Cali. She participated as the scene director for the first Black Art Festival of Peru in 1971.


  1. ^ Obituary in El Comercio
  2. ^ SFIAF
  3. ^ Heidi Carolyn Feldman (2006). Black Rhythms of Peru: Reviving African Musical Heritage in the Black Pacific. Wesleyan University Press. pp. 49–62. ISBN 978-0-8195-6814-4.
  4. ^ "An Interview with Victoria Santa Cruz" From "Callaloo" Volume 34, Number 2, Spring 2011 via Project Muse