Folk Dance History in the Philippines

It is impossible to know when exactly dancing became a part of life in the Philippines. Many traditional dances were designed to thank the gods for natural and agricultural events, such as rain and harvests. The dances were performed during festivals and remembrances of past military victories, and still are performed at celebrations of births and weddings in modern times. Many modern folk dance festivals still feature ancient dances performed in costume of the tribal period of the Philippines. Some dances such as the Palok and the Lumagen are performed with traditional percussion instruments such as the gangsa (a small copper gong), a tobtob (brass gong) or a hibat (a gong played with a soft wooden stick).

For many tribal dances there are no external musicians; the dancers generate their own accompaniment with stomping and hand clapping. Later Dances in Philippine History

More recent dances done in the Philippines derive from historical events such as the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century and the conflicts with the Moors.

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While certain words and movements from those cultures have been integrated into the dances, the Filipino dance genre remains true to its ancient tradition and roots.

* Touch: Bring your free foot to your lead foot, then touch the floor without taking a step or putting weight on the free foot. * Toe: Touch the toe of the free foot to the floor without shifting weight to the free foot. * Heel: Extend the free foot forward, then touch the back of your heel to the floor without putting weight on your heel.

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* Tap: Touch the floor with a sharp motion with your free foot, but do not take a step or put weight on the free foot. * Stamp: Stomp the flat of your free foot on the floor, but do not put weight on the free foot. Noise can vary based on the type of shoe you’re wearing and the type of floor. * Point: Extend the free foot forward or backward and touch your toe to the floor. The ankle should be stretched and the instep arched. Do not step or put weight on the free foot.

* Press: Step forward with your free foot, putting partial weight on the ball of your foot. Your supporting leg should be straight and your pressed leg (free foot) is bent with some pressure (partial weight) on the floor. Your body should be leaned forward just a bit. * Brush: Touch the toe of your free foot to the floor, then move it a short distance toward the supporting foot or move it against the supporting foot, but do not put weight on it. * Draw: Touch the toe of your free foot to the floor far from your supporting foot, then move it toward your supporting foot without putting weight on it. * Drag: Stretch your body up, then touch your toe to the floor far from your supporting foot and move it toward your supporting foot without putting weight on it. * Flare: Sweep your free foot in an arc, making sure to keep your toe in contact with the floor without putting weight on it.

First position- raises arms to a circle in front of the chest. Second position – open up arms sideward, raised below shoulder level with a graceful curve. Third position – raise one arm overhead while other arm remains in 2nd position. Fourth position – raise one arm in front of chest in a half circle, while one arm remains overhead. Fifth position – raise both arms overhead in a graceful curve. Feet Positions:

First position – bring heels close to touch; toes apart.
Second position – bring feet apart sideward.

Third position – bring the heel of one foot to touch the instep of the other foot. Fourth position – bring one foot in front of the other foot to walk strike. Fifth position – bring the heel of one foot to touch the toe of the other. 3/4

plain polka
sway balance with raise
three steps and point
cross waltz
plain waltz
Touch Step
Step Point
Close Step
Slide Step
Step Swing
Step Hop

Subli is the dance portion of a devotion performed in honor of the Mahal na Poong Santa Cruz, a large crucifix of anubing wood with the face of the sun in silver at the center. The icon was discovered in the early decades of Spanish rule in what is now the town of Alitagtag, Batangas. It is the patron of many towns in the area, notably the ancient town of Bauan, Batangas. The subli consists of a long sequence of prayers in verse, songs, and dances, performed in a fixed sequence. The verse recounts the first journey of the early manunubli ( subli performer)through the fields, hills, and rivers of Batangas in search of the miraculous cross. Sections of verse are sung to a fixed punto or skeletal melody, which may be elaborated on in a different way by a different subli troupe. About five of these punto are used in a complete subli performance. These sections may be divided further into various fixed dance patterns involving one, two or eight pairs of men and women.

These numbers seem to be the norm in Bauan, although other towns may have formations involving three pairs at a time. The stances, gestures, and movements of the male dancers are freewheeling and dramatic, consisting of leaping, striking the ground with kalaste (wooden bamboo clappers held in both hands), and other movements suggesting the martial arts. The women circle on half-toe, performing the talik (small refined gestures with wrists and fingers), their fingers grazing the small-brimmed hats and alampay (triangular scarf worn loosely over the shoulder)that are the essential parts of their costume. They dance and sing, to the rhythm beaten out by a stick on the tugtugan, a goblet-shaped, footed drum of langka wood with a head made of iguana skin. -E.R. Mirano

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Folk Dance History in the Philippines. (2017, May 10). Retrieved from

Folk Dance History in the Philippines

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