Mi Perú-Minnesota enriches community

Hanna Anderson celebrates Peruvian culture through dance


Used with permission by Hanna Anderson.

Elena Ortiz-Fishman

What has your experience in Mi Perú-Minnesota been like? 

I am a member, (and) I’m the director of the board of directors of Mi Perú-Minnesota. We’re a Minnesota folkloric dance group that promotes Peruvian culture through its dances. We’re usually invited to participate in cultural events. In the past, our most prominent invitation or show was for the Festival of Nations, which has been canceled for the last two years. But we have also performed at Latin days at Valleyfair and we have performed in Hispanic Heritage celebrations in universities and schools. We are a very small group. We are about like 15 members, (with) about 10 to 12 active members. We perform a variety of dances that represent all regions of Peru and most of us are moms or working mothers. That’s another important part that we balance. 

Why did you join Mi Perú-Minnesota?

For me, it was two things. The first one: a love for dancing. But, the second one: a need to belong to a Peruvian community, and that has stayed my motivation ever since. It’s that combination, and then later it also became not only to be a part of a community, but to represent that community through there.

How long have you been dancing?

I started five years ago, I want to say I’ve always danced for fun. I remember being four years old, and my dad teaching me how to dance Cumbia – that’s my earliest memory of dancing. Five years ago in Minnesota, I finally had the chance and the time to spend more time dancing and representing Peru. 

What have you taken out of this experience? 

I was never part of any sports before, or any part of a team that way. That sense of community was number one, the sense to work towards something – and in this case it was to represent Peru the best way we can. None of us are professional dancers. We’re all teachers, property managers, we have engineers – everybody comes together. We want to represent Peru the best way we can, but we want to have fun. It’s that combination of being proud when we’re able to put together a dance, being proud of ourselves, but also being proud to represent the richness and diversity of Peru’s dances. 

How has the group brought you closer to your culture and your community?

When I came to the U.S. I went from being a white Latina, to being a woman of color. I came from being Peruvian, to just being a Latina. And for years, I felt like my identity was dissolved. Being a part of the group was part of me reclaiming my Peruvian identity. I also did it for my family and my children, what it means to be Peruvian, and what it means to be biracial and bicultural. Although dancing is still amazing, my kids are not necessarily part of it, but they come to the events and they have met other biracial children, bilingual children, who have families of similar backgrounds. That community extends not only to me, but to the families of the members of the group. 

How have you brought this passion back to Park? 

We are kind of based in St. Louis Park. We have found a lot of support in this community, and the community has also given us the opportunity to perform at events, like the SLP Arts Fair. It’s been a symbiotic relationship where we have gotten a lot of support, but we have also been given opportunities to perform and show our work. As a mother of a PSI student I have also volunteered in the past in Baile Folklórico, both being an MC and then also helping with teaching one of the Peruvian dances. 

Do you have any events coming up? 

We are very excited that Sunday, March 20, we are going to be performing at the Landmark Center in St. Paul from 1 – 3 p.m. It’s an urban expedition series, and the Landmark every month shows a different country. After so many events have been canceled over the last two years, this is really a very special opportunity to witness or see Peruvian dances and also try some of its food.