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A folk dance is developed by people that reflect the life of the people of a certain
country or region. Not all ethnic dances are folk dances. For example, ritual
dances or dances of ritual origin are not considered to be folk dances. Ritual
dances are usually called "Religious dances" because of their purpose. The
terms "ethnic" and "traditional" are used when it is required to emphasize the
cultural roots of the dance. In this sense, nearly all folk dances are ethnic ones. If
some dances, such as polka, cross ethnic boundaries and even cross the
boundary between "folk" and "ballroom dance", ethnic differences are often
considerable enough to mention

.Traditional Folk Dances of the Philippines

The Philippines has many popular folk dances which have evolved and
changed as they have been passed down from generation to generation.
Although a particular dance might be performed slightly differently from one
region to the next, its remains true to its roots. Here are some of the most
popular dances from the region

The Itik-Itik
The best description of the Itik-Itik is that the steps mimic the way a duck
walks, as well as the way it splashes water on its back to attract a mate.
According to popular tradition, the dance was created by a lady named Kanang
who choreographed the steps while dancing at a baptismal party. The other
guests copied her movements, and everyone liked the dance so much that it
has been passed along ever since.

The Tinikling
The Tinikling is considered by many to be the Philippines' national dance. The
dance's movements imitate the movement of the tikling bird as it walks around
through tall grass and between tree branches. People perform the dance using
bamboo poles. The dance is composed of three basic steps which include
singles, doubles and hops. It looks similar to playing jump rope, except that the
dancers perform the steps around and between the bamboo poles, and the
dance becomes faster until someone makes a mistake and the next set of
dancers takes a turn.

The Sayaw sa Bangko

The Sayaw sa Bangko is performed on top of a narrow bench. Dancers need
good balance as they go through a series of movements that include some
impressive acrobatics. This dance traces its roots back to the areas of
Pangapisan, Lingayen and Pangasinan.

The Binasuan
The Binasuan is an entertaining dance that is usually performed at festive
social occasions like weddings and birthdays. Dancers carefully balance three
half-filled glasses of rice wine on their heads and hands as they gracefully spin
and roll on the ground. The dance originated in Bayambang in the Pangasinan
province, and though it's usually performed alone, it can also become a
competition between several dancers.

The Pandanggo sa Ilaw

The Pandanggo sa Ilaw is similar to a Spanish Fandango, but the Pandanggo is
performed while balancing three oil lamps - one on the head, and one in each
hand. It's a lively dance that originated on Lubang Island. The music is in 3/4
time and is usually accompanied by castanets

The Pandanggo Oasiwas

The Pandanggo Oasiwas is similar to the Pandanggo sa Ilaw, and is typically
performed by fishermen to celebrate a good catch. In this version, the lamps
are placed in cloths or nets and swung around as the dancers circle and sway.

The Maglalatik
The Maglalatik is a mock war dance that depicts a fight over coconut meat, a
highly-prized food. The dance is broken into four parts: two devoted to the
battle and two devoted to reconciling. The men of the dance wear coconut
shells as part of their costumes, and they slap them in rhythm with the music.
The Maglalatik is danced in the religious procession during the fiesta of Biñan
as an offering to San Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.

The Kuratsa
The Kuratsa is described as a dance of courtship and is often performed at
weddings and other social occasions. The dance has three parts. The couple
first performs a waltz. In the second part, the music sets a faster pace as the
man pursues the woman around the dance floor in a chase. To finish, the music
becomes even faster as the man wins over the woman with his mating dance.

La Jota Moncadeña
The La Jota Moncadeña is adapted by the Filipinos from an old Spanish dance.
It's a combination of Spanish and Ilocano dance steps set to Spanish music and
castanets. A more solemn version of this dance is sometimes used to
accompany a funeral procession, but it is also performed at celebrations.

The Kappa Malong-Malong

The Kappa Malong-Malong is a Muslim-influenced dance. The malong is a
tubular garment, and the dance essentially shows the many ways it can be
worn. There are men's and women's versions of the dance since they wear
malongs in different ways.

The Habanera Botolena

The Habanera Botolena is a strongly flamenco-influenced dance that comes
from Botolan, Zambales. It combines Filipino and Spanish steps, and is a
popular dance at weddings. It is also considered a courting dance in some

The Pantomina
Also known as the Dance of the Doves, the Pantomina mimics the courtship
between doves and is often also a courtship dance between the couples that
perform it. This dance is an important part of the Sorsogon Kasanggayahan
Festival held each October, where it is mainly performed by the elders of the

The Cariñosa
The Cariñosa is a dance made for flirting! Dancers make a number of
flirtatious movements as they hide behind fans or handkerchiefs and peek out
at one another. The essence of the dance is the courtship between two

The Surtido
Surtido literally means "assortment," and this square dance combines
influences of French, Spanish and Mexican dance. Traditionally the Surtido is
performed by a head couple accompanied by two other couples who lead all the
dancers through various formations that resemble an old-fashioned quadrille.

The Singkil
The Singkil is a dance traditionally performed by single women to attract the
attention of potential suitors. Dancers perform a series of graceful movements
as they step in and out from between bamboo poles which are rhythmically
clapped together. Fans and scarves are often used to enhance the dancers'

The Polkabal
The Polkabal shows some European influence in its steps. The dance is
composed of nine different steps which include various movements such as
fluttering, stepping heel-to-toe, a reenactment of a bull fight, and even a
leisurely walk.

The Magkasuyo
The Magkasuyo is a variation of the balse - the one-two-three graceful triple
meter that Filipino traditional dance borrowed from the Spanish waltz. It is a
formal series of close-step-close movements with a couple facing each other in
a courtship configuration. Balse incorporates German and Spanish influence,
but the Magkasuyo is the specific invention of Quezon province, a large
farming and fishing region southeast of Manila with a rich tradition of outside
influences, including Spanish, Malay, and Muslim. A popular song Magkasuyo
Buong Gabi (Lovers for the Night) expands on the romantic nature of the


Before the recorded history of the Philippines, before the Spanish
conquistadors conquered and Christianized the populace, from the earliest
occupation of this volcanic archipelago, the people danced. They danced to
appease the gods, to curry favor from powerful spirits, to celebrate a hunt or
harvest, to mimic the exotic life forms around them. They danced their stories
and their shamanic rituals, their rites of passage and their remembered
legends and history.

Rural dances include such favorites as the high-stepping Tinikling, which

mimics a bird, and the Gaway-Gaway, which features the movements of
children pulling the stalks of the gaway roots during a bountiful harvest. The
pagan tribes, the Higaonon, Subanon, Bagogo, and others who have inhabited
the Philippines for thousands of years, preserved their customs and symbolic
dances. Partly through isolation, they kept their culture free from the influence
of the waves of immigrants who settled the archipelago over the centuries.
Today, tribal dances like Dugso (a dance of gratitude for a good harvest or a
male heir, danced with ankle bells), Sohten(an all-male war dance)
and Lawin-Lawin(another male dance which mimics a swooping, soaring eagle)
are carefully documented and kept alive in performance by Filipino folk dance
troupes and cultural institutions, such as the Parangal Dance Company.

The Pagdiwata is a trance dance, featuring women dancers who

enact a thanksgiving ritual at the time of the harvest moon. The
shamanic figures mime the spirits who possess them and enact a
drama that can last for hours.Muslim Merchants
Muslim traders from the Malay Archipelago reached the Philippines in the
14th century, well ahead of the Europeans. Thier conversion of the populace
was a modest affair; they were more interested in commerce than colonization,
although they did establish strongholds and convert the local populace to
Islam. They also created their own folk dances in the areas where they
settled. Singkil is one of the most famous. It depicts the plight of a princess
caught in a magical earthquake in a forest. Her faithful servant tries to shield
her with a parasol as the princess gracefully dodges falling trees, and is
eventually saved by a prince.

Spanish Colonization
Folk dances survived the European invasion, and the dancers adapted imposed
Christian belief and culture to their own dances, borrowing court
choreography but imbuing it with Philippine spirit. The Maria Clara dances
merged Spanish court style (and its stylized courtship conventions) with
Philippine exuberance. Maria Clara is the pure and noble heroine of a novel
who represents the finest qualities of Filipino womanhood. The dancers wear
European 16th-century dress but move to the sounds of bamboo castanets.

Folkloric Fusion
The revered folk dances from the lowlands and the hill tribes persist in their
traditional form and in contemporary choreography for Philippine ballet
companies. Dance is still the theater of identity for the Filipino people, a
vibrant and cherished way to tell their story forward with all the rich history of
their past.

Folk Dance - History and Types of Folk Dance

With each passing year, customs and beliefs of groups of people get built little
by little, slowly with time forming into traditions. Folk dances represent one of
the strongest ways these (sometimes truly ancient) traditions of countries and
regions can be showcased to the public. Even though many traditional dances
bear the name of an ethnic dance, not all of them remained folk dances, but all
of them try to emphasize the cultural roots of the particular dance. Some of
them morphed over time into religious dances, and as such, they are not
primarily used to showcase tradition but to enhance religious ceremonies and
beliefs. Such dances are often called religious or ritual dances.

Folk dances are usually danced at social gatherings (which can be formed
spontaneously or during yearly celebrations) that can but are not required to
have a particular dancing stage and are almost always so simple to dance that
new dancers and amateurs are encouraged to start dancing with everyone else.
Such dances almost never have an official governing body that is keeping the
development of folk dance in check. Instead of that, the morphing of the folk
dances in their countries and local regions happens spontaneously by the
changes with local traditions. Modern dances that have developed
spontaneously such as hip hop are not regarded as folk dance, and they are
often called as “street dances”.

Different Types of Folk Dance

Some of the most notable folk dances from all around the world are:
 Ball de bastons – Weapon dance from Spain and Portugal
 Céilidh – Gaelic folk dance originating from Scotland and Ireland
 Clogging – Folk dance that features beating of heavy footwear on
the floor
 English country dance – Traditional English folk dance that is also
danced in France and Germany
 Fandango – Traditional Spanish couples dance that is accompanied
by guitars and clapping hands or castanets.
 Georgian folk dances – They include dances such as Kartuli,
Khorumi, Acharuli, Partsa, Kazbeguri, Khevsuruli and many others.
 Greek dances – Rich Greek history has borne over 100 of traditional
folk dances, including a dozen that was danced at ancient feasts such
as Angelica, Carpaea, Cordax and others.
 Hora - Traditional folk dance of Balkans, danced in Montenegro,
Macedonia, Bulgaria and several other countries.
 Kolo – Folk dance of that is danced in South Slavic countries such as
Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia.
 Irish Dance – Traditional folk dance that has several forms of
dancing, including popular Irish Step Dance.
 Italian folk dance – Italy is a home of many popular folk dances such
as Tarantella, Pizzica, Monferrina, Calabrian Tarantella and Ballu
 Jota – Popular Spanish folk dance.
 Morris Dance – Traditional English dance is originating from the 15th
 Polka – Very popular traditional dance from the Czech Republic that
is danced today all around the world.
 Turkish dances – Bar, Halay, Horon, Zeybek and Sufi spinning
 Hungarian dances – Most famous Hungarian folk dances are
Verbuňk, Ugrós, Karikázóm, Legényes and Csárdás.
 Polska – Traditional folk dance of Nordic countries (Denmark,
Sweden, Finland and Norway)
 Square Dance – Traditional dance originating from England, it
involves four pairs of dancers.
 Sword (or Weapon) dances – Genre of folk dances, consisting of
dozens upon dozens of individual dances from all around the world
 Dollu Kunitha – Very popular drum-based dance from India.
 Bhangra – Famous Punjabi harvest dance.
 Attan - The national dance of Pashtun regions of Afghanistan and
 Khigga – Celebration or Wedding circle dance of Assyria
 Odori – Japanese folk dance, performed at streets during
celebrations and parades
 Buyō – Japanese geisha and artist dance.