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Maria Clara Suite
"Los Bailes de Ayer"

During the Spanish period, Western European ways of life spread throughout the Islands. Along with them came European dances such as the waltz, fandango, mazurka, polka, and the jota. The Filipinos welcomed these dances and, by adding native flare and style, made them their own. Named in the honor of the heroine in Dr. Jose Rizal's novel, Noli me Tangere, the Maria Clara Suite captures the elegance and charm of the mestiza Filipina as well as the gallantry and boldness of the mestizo Filipino. Courtship, love, and flirtation are all evident in this suite of romantic dances.


Aray
(Ermita, Manila) The Aray is a Filipinized form of the Spanish jota accompanied by sprightly steps. The dance, itself, is a flirtatious one that also involves the graceful use of tambourines by the women. The song is sang in old Ermiteño dialect.

Chotis Taaleño
(Taal, Bantangas) The chotis is Bavarian in origin, but was popular in Madrid, Spain and therefore imported to the Filipinos via the Spaniards. This filipinized version of the chotis features young ladies as they flirtatiously sway hats wo a waltz tempo.

Imunan
(San Jacinto, Pangasinan) Imunan, a courtship dance, means jealousy. The dance depicts a love triangle; two girls and one boy. In this dance, the boy tries to please the girls who are trying their best to get his attention and favor. The boy shows an admirable attempt to please both girls by paying attention, flirting, and dancing with them, one after the other. The attempt is successful and at the end of the dance, all is sweetness and harmony among the three dancers.

Jota Cabangan
(Cabangan, Zambales) This is a courtship dance performed by the bride and the groom at the "sinadag," a feast on the eve of the wedding day. To some, this dance is known as "Jota Sinansinan," a native term which means "somewhat like the Spanish Jotas." The dance depicts the courtship techniques done by the groom, like whispers by the window, secret touching of the bride's feet under the table, following the girl where ever she goes, etc.

Jota de Paragua* (Cuyo, Palawan)
Named after he old name of Palawan province, this dance retains the fiery flavor of the Jota, coming from the once popular Spanish capital of Seville and adapted by the local dancers of Palawan. The ladies wave their manton, or decorative shawl, while th egentlemen keep brisk pace with bamboo castanets.

La Estudiantina*
(Antimonan, Quezon) Performed by the daughters of privileged Filipinos during their days at the convent schools. The "estudiantinas" or female students are seen holding a book in hand throughout this very gay and lively dance.

La Gallina Ciega
(Manila) Meaning "the blind chicken," La Gallina Ciega was a popular game of the 1800s in which a person was encircled by many people and left to find themselves blindfolded. In the Phlippines, this game was adapted to a polka style dance that featured a blindfolded guitarist as he is teased and flirted with by many women.

La Jota Isabela
(Cuayan, Isabela) La Jota dances were the most popular during and after the Spanish regime. Named after Queen Isabela of Spain, Isabela province in northwestern Luzon is home to a very lively adaptation of the Spanish Jota. It was said to originate in the grand ballrooms of elegant mansions as guests danced to the rondalla while wearing their finest gowns and suits.

La Jota Manileña
(Manila) Originating from the capital city of Manila, La Jota Manileña is an adaptation of the Spanish jota. It is performed with the use of bamboo castanets.


La Simpatika*
(Pangasinan) Simpatika means demure, charming, and lovable; qualities of a senorita deeply in love. The flavor and context of La Simpatika centers on love exploits of gentlemen suitors who are after the love of their life. In the Philippines where moral rules are strict and binding, society calls for the ladies to be impeccably demure and gentlemen to be prim and proper.

Lanceros de Tayabas
(Tabayas, Quezon) Lanceros takes its name from the chivalrous knights and lanciers of King Arthur's fame. Taking off from the tournament grounds, the lanciers was reinterpreted into a form of dance performed in great ballrooms of majestic palaces where noble gentlemen crossed lines with graceful ladies. In Tayabas, the dance came to be known as Lanceros de Tayabas, noted as a divertissement for the comedia stage-play, also a Spanish import.

Manton de Manila
(Manila) The manton, an elaborately decorated silk shawl, was brought to the Philippines via the Manila-Alcapulco galleon trades. The manton de manila dance features strong Castilian influence as ladies gracefully and skillfully manipulate the shawl while men execute zapateados and wield a tambourine.

Mariposa
(Libsong, Pangasinan) Mariposa is Spanish for butterfly. The males in the dance are the butterflies and the females are flowers. This dance depicts a butterfly flirting from one flower to another. When he makes his way back to his favorite flower, he is disliked and snubbed for his infidelity. The butterfly is sad and learns the lesson not to make love to many girls. The girl pities him and later accepts his pleas so that in the end, the two are happy once again.

Noche de Gala
(Manila) One of the many adaptations of the Spanish jota, this version found favor among the elite in the grand ballrooms of old Manila. Castanets made of bamboo utilized by the performers add to the excitement and climax of the dance.

Paseo de Narciso
(San Narciso, Zambales) The town plaza of San Narciso is a favorite spot for late afternoon promenades or nocturnal rendezvous by friends and lovers. Here they manifest their feelings with stolen glances or make flirting signs with their hat, cane, scarf, or parasol. This dance developed from the antics and mannerisms of these friends and lovers who frequently stroll the plaza. Because of its playful and flirtatious movements, it became a favorite dance of the young and the no-so-old people.

Pampilpelalecan
(Pangasinan) Pampilpelalecan means "to gently touch the palms." At the turn of the century, special dance gatherings meant to entertain out of town guests brought people together; an opportunity taken by love-struck gentlemen to look around for future partners. Though repressed by moral norms, ladies managed to throw meaningful glances at men, a message that drew each closer to each other. At last, when they stood face to face with hands barely touching, courtship was its most passionate. The amorous touch that may last even a moment is what Pampilpelalecan is all about; the pining and longing for a loved one.

Polka Sa Plaza* (Parañaque, Manila)
A lively version of the polka popularly performed in the town plazas of old Manila.

Sampaguita
A song describing the beauty, purity and sweet scent of the Philippine national flower; the sampagita.


Sayaw Sa Cuyo

(Cuyo, Palawan) On the small island of Cuyo, Palawan's old capital, the feast day of St. Augustin is traditionally celebrated with parades, processions and small performances by groups coming from all over Cuyo Island and the nearby islets. Island dances, blended with strong Old Cuyo ethnicity and Spanish-influenced steps, are all brought out when Cuyo celebrates its festivals. Today, pretty young girls daintily swirl hats to the waltz and other European steps designed to bring out the freshness and glow of the performers.

Sinakiki
(Rapu-Rapu, Albay) Rapu-Rapu island is known for its lively fiesta's. During these celebrations, a playful and lively dance called the Sinakiki is performed. The Sinakiki illusrates the flirtatious movements of a rooster as his ladylove evades his every move.

Valse Vieja
(Pangasinan) In Pangasinan, Valse Vieja, performed during stately gatherings and fiestas by the upper class of old Pangasinan may still be the waltziest of all Pangasinan dances. The European waltz is interpreted with the "kewet," a hand movement particular to the province of Pangasinan.


* denotes the dance as part of our current repertoire for performance engagements


Copyright © 2011 Hiyas Philippine Folk Dance Company