Philippine Dances

Filipinos have always had the knack for dancing that comes easily and naturally when called for at any occasion. Generally romantic, Philippine dances translate love, sorrow, work into bodily grace with the exuberant spirit of music. They make a showcase of the people's daily life - occupations (pounding, harvesting, planting, fishing, rowing, courtship, weddings and christenings, and ethnic tribal rituals (worship, wars, victories and funerals).

The tribal dances of the indios (native sons), most of whom were believed to be pagans, had actually entertained the Spanish conquistadors who came. Before then, the dances already expressed relationships with different people, cycle of the seasons, performing arts with customs and tradition.

The 16th century ushered in the Spanish culture that is characteristically based on a unifying factor - Christianity. Since then, from the simples to the grandest celebrations, the dances took some Spanish color with the pomp and a pageantry which blended well with the local dances' oriental sophistication and mirthful charm.

A multi-island country touched by a mixture of cultural influences, the Philippines has a long scroll of classic folk dances. The most famous ones get to be more familiar after they are danced, the audience irresistibly applauding each time. The less familiar, however, are more reminiscent of history and roots of an interwoven culture.

A number of dance troupes have maintained concerted efforts to continuously educate both local and foreign audiences on Philippine folk dances, and promote their cultural value. The Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company, Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group, the UP Filipiniana Dance Troupe, and the Philippine Barangay Folk Dance Troupe are among these.


The Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company, established in 1957, is the country's leading folk dance company which has been officially accredited as the resident folk dance company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It is tasked with the preservation and development of folk dance for theater based on traditional art forms.

The most traveled cultural group of the country, Bayanihan has built up through the years of repertoire that includes ritual dances of the non-Christian tribes of Luzon, the ceremonial dances of the Muslims of the South, and the courtship, wedding and fiesta celebration dances of the Christian lowlanders.


Ramon A. Obusan was introduced to Filipino dance in 1964 as a member of the Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company. He stayed and grew with the company as a dancer while completing a degree in Anthropology at the University of the Philippines. During the many trips the Bayanihan made around the archipelago, he did not only dance with the group, he also undertook researches, recorded songs and dances, and collected poetry, tribal costumes and musical instruments.

From the wealth of his research and artifacts he gathered, he founded his own dance company in 1972 with the aim of preserving and developing authenticity and good theater. The Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group has toured Japan, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, the U.S.A. and twelve other European countries, and has been constantly requested to perform for visiting government dignitaries during festivals, conventions and dance workshops.


The University of the Philippines Dance Troupe traces its beginnings to 1988 National Artist Francisca Reyes Aquino. Through the years, the group has represented the student artist of the university in on-campus, national and international levels.

It won the Collier d'Or (First Prize for Dance) and Disc d'Or (First Price for Music) in the 33rd Wine and Folkloric Festival in Dijon, France. It was the first time in the festival's history that a single country won the two prestigious awards.

In the course of its tours around the world, UP Filipiniana has won public appreciation from its audiences who have reviewed their performances as "world class."


A group of 26 members, the Philippine Barangay Dance Troupe will relate the history and impart the beauty of their homeland as a panorama of life in songs, music and dances. Kayabang, Lima ng mga Gangsa and Bumatak are tribal dances of the mountain people. La Simpatica and Jota Moncadeņa are dances of the yesteryears.

Amadha, Muslim Suite dances, include Tahing Baila, Malong and Singkil. "Pista ng Bayan" dances describing the rural towns, mode of life and special day celebrations include Oasioas, Sayaw Ed Tapew na Bangko, Binasuan, Maglalatik, Salakot and Tinikling.

(Source: Cultural Center of the Philippines, Department of Tourism, Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation)