The southern islands of the
Philippines are wondrous and serene. Consisting of Mindanao and the
Sulu Archipelago, the south is populated by many Filipinos who have
been converted to the Islamic faith long before the Spanish inquisition
took place. The dances of these islands are graceful, flowing, and
fluid; much like the ocean that surrounds them. The spectacle of
colorful and intricate attire and the mesmerizing sounds of the
kulintang ensemble easily make these dances the most exotic of all Philippine dances.
(Jolo, Sulu) The Burong Talo dance of the Tausog people is a form of
martial arts interpreted in dance form. Mimicking a fight between a
hawk and a cat, this acrobatic dance is accompanied by drum and gong.
(Jolo, Sulu) The Badjao, known as sea gypsies, are born, raised, and
die on boats called lipa or buti. The Badjao have a remarkable affinity
with their "home boat" that a dance was created in its honor. Deviating
from the traditional pangalay, the buti-buti is an occupational dance
that mimics the daily activities of men rowing, diving, casting and
pulling nets, harvesting and bringing home the catch while women use
rattan baskets to gather shellfish. The accompanying song or Leleng,
describes the buti-buti's gentle sway, similar to the graceful walk of
the badjao lady.
(Arena Blanco, Zamboanga) The Janggay dance of the Badjao people takes
its name from the metal fingernails worn by the women on special
occasions. Passed down from generation to generation, the Janggay is
danced for celebrations such as birthdays and weddings and for rituals
such as male and female circumcisions and Ramadan. This smooth and
flowing dance is performed with highly articulated form, restrained
strict facial gestures and meticulous attention to the placement of
each finger in relation to the palms and wrist twists.
(Marawi, Lanao del Sur) Maranao women walk the kini-kini to display good breeding and social graces as they elegantly manipulate two hand-held fans called apir.
(Maguindanao) The tendong is a head covering worn by females and the tubao is a head covering worn by males among the Maguindanaoan people. This dance goes through the many ways of wearing the tendong and tubao.
(Marawi, Lanao del Norte) The royal walk or "kini-kini" of the Maranao women is illustrated in the Kinakulangan dance. Male attendants follow the ladies as they gracefully manipulate mosala, or scarves, displaying their elite social upbringing.
(Jolo, Sulu) Literally meaning "to dance," the maglangka is used to mold the adolescent girls into ladies of good breeding and accomplished dancing skills. The girls are strictly taught to gracefully execute movements imitating birds in flight, fish swimming in the sea, or branches swaying in the air while remaining in the confines of a square cloth. these movements require intense concentration and innate style as the ladies express emotions and entertain guests.
(Jolo, Sulu) This dance is another version of the Pangalay found among the Tausog people. It is a courtship dance that features the skill and agility of the female dancer as she balances atop two bamboo poles held on the shoulders of two males.
(Jolo, Sulu) Pangalay is a popular festival dance in Sulu. It is
performed in wedding celebrations and at big social affairs. Wedding
celebrations among the rich families in Sulu are lavishly observed.
They may last for several days or even weeks depending on the financial
status and agreement of both families. Well known dancers perform the
dance while others feast. Expert dancers use janggay, extended metal
finger nails made of gold or silver.
(Maguindanao) Sagayan is an all male dance performed as a way to ward off evil spirits or calamities. Performed in a trance-like state, the dancers represent the legendary Prince Bantugan and his dramatic victories in war.
(Maranao, Mindanao) Coming from the Lake Lanao region, the Singkil is a
popular dance performed during celebrations and other festive
entertainment. Performed as a female only dance, the Singkil serves as
either a conscious or unconscious advertisement to would-be suitors for
her future marriage. The ladies graciously step in and out of clashing
bamboo poles arranged in either a parallel, rectangular, or criss
cross fashion while manipulating either apir (fans), mosala (scarves),
or even just their bare hands.
Sua Ko Sua*
(Jolo, Sulu) The Tausug are known as hardy farmers owning extensive ochards of pomelo or sua. At harvest time, pomelo fruits are gathered in big baskets before they are sent away. The Tausug depend strongly on the income the pomelo brings them and this relationship is romanticized by comparing the sua's gentle leaves, slender branches, attractive fruit and fragrant flowers to the virtues of a lady. Put to music, it is this song that is sang by couples while flapping two white fans each resembling leaves rustling in the wind.
Singkil means to entangle the
feet with disturbing objects such as vines or anything in your path. It
takes its name from the epic tale that the Maranao people trace the
origin of their culture. It goes as follows: In the land of Bembaran
lived a brave and handsome hero prince named Paramata Bantogan. He
would often leave Bembaran in search of beautiful princesses from far
off lands, thus leaving Bembaran vulnerable with its most bravest
warrior absent. This would make the diwatas, the guardian spirits of
Bembaran, very angry. In an attempt to get Bantongen to stay, the
diwatas kidnapped Princess Gandingan, a local princess with bewitching
beauty whom Prince Bantongan had not yet seen. The diwatas then placed
the princess in an isolated forest where Bantongen would pass on his
way to the lands of his favorite ladies. As he passed through this
forest, the diwatas caused in earthquake. In her freight, Princess
Gandingan began to run for safety. Despite the fierce earthquake
causing boulders to fall and all of nature to shake, Princess Gandingan
gracefully stepped, hopped, jumped, and hurdled the little rocks and
swiftly passed through the trembling trees. The valiant prince saw the
frightened princess, chased her, and lead her to safety. Soon after,
the earthquake stopped, leaving Prince Bantongan to admire the charming
and beautiful princess and forget the beauties of other lands. Thus,
Singkil mimics the trials and gracefulness of the legendary Princess
Gandingan as she avoided entangling her feet in the cursed forest.
* denotes the dance as part of our
current repertoire for performance engagements