Perú Expresión Courtesy of HistoryMiami Museum. Photo of Perú Expresión performing, including three musicians playing percussion instruments (from left to right: the “cajita” and two “cajons” with an unplayed “quijada” sitting on a table in the back), and two dancers.

Perú Expresión is an Afro-Peruvian musical group located in Miami, Florida, led by percussionist Johnny Mora and dancer Maribel Egoavil. Afro-Peruvian music and dance comes from the mixture of cultures from enslaved people of African descent, Spanish settlers and indigenous Andean people. These cultures used music and dancing as important ways to share emotions, depict courting rituals and celebrate important dates and events. Mora and Egoavil learned to play music and dance from their families who have been passing down these traditions for generations.

Perú Expresión uses a variety of percussion instruments to make their danceable music. One of the more unique instruments is a donkey jaw, or “quijada,” which produces a rattle from the vibrating teeth when struck. Another instrument, the “cajita,” is a small wooden box that is worn around the neck and struck on the sides with a wooden stick. Lastly, the “cajón” is a box-like instrument that is struck with the hands while sitting on top of it. This instrument was an important tool for communication after drums were taken away from enslaved peoples. These instruments, as well as dancing, can be seen in the cover photo above (the percussionists play the “cajita” and two “cajóns” from left to right. Behind them, the “quijada” is sitting on the right side of the table).

Perú Expresión is an active performance group, performing at private parties, festivals, events and concerts. They served as the Artists-in-Residence at HistoryMiami Museum from September through November of 2013. Many members have also appeared with Perú Negro, a world-renowned musical group.

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