Visayan Dances

 

Visayan folk dancing runs the gamut from worship dances to courtship and wedding dances.  A distinctive type is the wide assortment of mimetic dances in which movements try to mimic, for example, the flight of birds, the catching of fish, the making of wine, and other aspects of Visayan life.

Sinulog (worship dance)
Gapnod (worship dance)
Surtido Cebuano (square dance)
La Berde (courtship dance)
Kuradang (wedding dance)
Itik-Itik (mimetic dance)
Mananagat (mimetic dance)
Mananguete (mimetic dance)
Ohong-Ohong (mimetic dance)

sabungdance2_alejandro78.jpg (9433 bytes)
Vera-Reyes Inc. Philippines, 1978

sabungdance_roces80.jpg (10316 bytes)
Vera-Reyes Inc. Philippines, 1980

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sinulog (Cebuano word for "carried along by the current") is believed to have originated from a ritual dance for a pagan deity who was fished out from the sea.   It was later Hispanized and transformed into a dance of worship for the Santo Niņo.   There are many types of sinulog dances.  The simplest, least acculturated, and perhaps the purest form of ritual prayer is what has been called the tindera sinulog.   Performed on the patio of the Santo Niņo Basilica, it is danced by women candle peddlers on behalf of devotees who buy candles from them as an offering for petitions or for thanksgiving.  Performed to a silent, resilient beat, the dancer performs this supplicatory dance with no formal costume or audience.

There are three distinct phases in this ritual dance.  There is first an introductory rite wherein the dancer takes an erect stance and raises the offering of candles toward the image of the Santo Niņo.  The dancer then recites a prayer.  As soon as the prayer is uttered, the dancer performs the gently bouncing sinulog movement.  The bouncy movement is restrained and almost pious, originating from the torso and seeming to flow to the limbs in gentle, wave-like motions.  The dance closes with another prayer.

troupesinulog_ayala97.jpg (18067 bytes) An elaborate version of the sinulog, called troupe sinulog, is said to exhibit a "masculine" style of dancing -- one that is more convulsive and energetic than the feminine tindera style.  This version features jumping, hopping, and arm gestures that resemble fighting.  It also calls for drum accompaniment. (Source:  Cebu, More than an Island.  1997, Ayala Foundation, Inc., Philippines; 279pp.)

 

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Gapnod (Cebuano for "flotsam") is a worship dance popular among the people of Negros Oriental.  It is a reenactment of the discovery by a fisherman of the image of St. Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of the town of Sibulan, Negros Oriental.  The dance is one of rejoicing and merrymaking that ends in a fluvial procession along the coast. (Source:  Folk Culture of the Central Visayas [Kalinangan Series 2], 1986, Instructional Materials Corporation, Philippines; 194pp.)

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The Surtido Cebuano is a square dance said to have originated in Bantayan, Cebu.  It is a cobbling together of Spanish, Mexican, and French influences along with indigenous elements.  Surtido (literally, assortment) is performed by several pairs of dancers, with the head pair called cabeceras and the side pairs, costados, guiding the other dancers in varied quadrille formations.  It used to be a dance of long duration performed by a big group to the tune of beautiful Visayan folk airs.  The modern arrangement is more lively and suitable for dancing by small groups.

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La Berde (literally, green) is a courtship dance from a mountain settlement in Talamban, Cebu.  In a series of quick steps and quick changes, the dance celebrates what is lush and full of life.  The dance is performed by an interesting cast of two girls and a boy, instead of the usual pair of dancers. laberde_alejandro78.jpg (13862 bytes)


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Kuradang,  also known as curacha,   is a lively wedding dance popular in Bohol,  where it  is performed to the accompaniment of a rondalla, an ensemble of string instruments. 

  kuradang2_alejandro78.jpg (4645 bytes)
Vera-Reyes Inc. Philippines, 1978

The dance is performed in three parts, with three different rhythms.  The dancing couple starts the performance with a ballroom waltz.  Then the music shifts to a faster beat for the "chasing" scene, in which the female dancer flees and the male pursues her all across the dance floor.

     kuradang1_alejandro78.jpg (10318 bytes)The tempo picks up even more for the final part, in which the chase ends with a furiously flirtatious scene.  The female is won over, and the male imitates a flamboyant bird in a mating dance.

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Itik-Itik is a mimetic dance that depicts the movements of wading and flying itik (ducks).  Dancers mimic the short swaying gait of waddling feet and the intense energy of close-cropped flapping wings. itikitik_natbook.jpg (60623 bytes)

 

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mananagat_natbook.jpg (38075 bytes) The mimetic dance Mananagat (Cebuano for "fisherman") depicts fishermen at sea.  Dancers in long-line formations mimic women scooping water from the banca (canoe) with bamboo shells and men wielding wooden paddles.

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Mananguete (coconut wine tapper) reenacts the stages of making tuba (coconut wine).  The dance starts with movements that mimic the sharpening of the sanggot (scythe) and then proceeds to the cleaning of the kawit (bamboo container), climbing of the coconut tree, extracting of the sap, and finally, tasting of the tuba.

tubajock_pal90.jpg (15120 bytes)
    Philippine Airlines, 1990

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Ohong is the Cebuano word for "mushroom" and the mimetic dance Ohong-Ohong features rapid twirling movements by women dressed in long, billowy skirts with layers of petticoats visually representing mushrooms.  The dance is a celebration of the onset of rains and of bountiful harvests.

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