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Cariñosa, The National Dance Of The Philippines

Cariñosa, the national dance of the Philippines, is a romantic, flirtatious folk dance set to a waltz-like 3/4 rhythm. A couple expresses their feelings for each other with coy moves, including playing hide-and-seek behind a handkerchief or a fan.

Cariñosa is known throughout the Philippines. Cariñosa ('kah-reehn-YOH-sah') means affectionate, lovable, or amiable. With a fan or handkerchief, the dancers go through hide-and-seek movements and other flirting acts expressing tender feelings for one another. There are many versions of this dance, but the hide-and-seek movements are common in all.

Carinosa was introduced to the country by Spanish colonizers. Panay Island, located in the Visaya island group, is considered the home of the carinosa. Dancers perform carinosa to Spanish-style music played by a string ensemble, in 3/4 time.

Carinosa usually involves two dancers, one male, one female, who dance facing one another. The word "carinosa" means "affectionate" or "lovable" in Spanish, and this is a courtship dance. The dancers don't touch each other, but their dancing indicates their romantic interest: They peek at each other around a handkerchief, exchange coy little waves, and drop to one knee while one partner dances around the other.

The first ever published notation of the Cariñosa dance steps was from the book Philippine Folk Dances and Games by Francisca Reyes-Tolentino (later became an Aquino). Mrs Tolentino's master's thesis which have the same title was revised and was later published in 1927. However, the most common of the many Cariñosa found in the country is the one from the book "Philippine Folk Dances v1" by Francisca Reyes Aquino, published sometime in 1940. The version integrated all the common dance figures among the many versions throughout the land.

Three versions of this courtship-festival dance were found in Panay Island, the "Home of the Carinosa". Three different dance researchers discovered three equally beautiful Cariñosa dances. Petronila Suarez had her Carinosa Binggawan, Jose Balcena's informant , an old dancing virtuoso name Casimiro earned him the identity of Balcena's cariñosa version: Tatay Meroy Cariñosa. Tatay Meroy was an old bachelor from Roxas City who because of old age became aggressive in his courting of a future partner. This version dramatizes Tatay Mero's pursuit of his partner who teases him by flirting.

Prolific Visayan dance researchers Libertad Fajardo and her daughter Joanne discovered a Cariñosa version from San Joaquin, Iloilo. The San Joaquin cariñosa is probably the most flirtatious of all known versions. Here, the couple does not simply do some hide-and-seek in a vertically spread handkerchief but also does the combing of each partner's hair and even putting a powder puff! This version is ended with a ballroom waltz where the couple goes around the dance floor in close ballroom position.

The Cariñosa was also very popular in Samar where it is called Pandanggyado Cariñosa or simply Pandanggyado in' Samar. A cariñosa from Bicol discovered by Ramon Obusan in Rapu-rapu, Albay is a very unique song-dance or sayawit. The hide-and-seek uses a folding fan rather than the common prop: handkerchief. A very unique Bicolnon dance step called binanog is prominent throught the dance where it was originally used as an intermission.

The Cariñosa is believed to have replaced the popular Tinikling as the "National Dance of the Philippines" in 1992. However, according to the Philippine Information Agency, the Tinikling is indeed the "National Dance of the Philippines".

The Steps:

The basic footwork is similar to the steps used in a waltz: You move around the floor by stepping to the side with your left foot, then moving your right foot next to your left. You finish off this series of three movements by tapping your left foot on the floor. Repeat this sequence of steps, this time beginning by stepping to the side with your right foot.

Spins are another fundamental element of carinosa. They take up the last two bars of an eight-bar sequence. If you're the male half of the dancing pair, you either fold your hands behind your back or put your hands on your hips. The best way to think of this modified hands-on-hips pose is to make sure your thumbs point inward toward your waist and your knuckles rest on your love handles, even if you don't have them. If you're the female, hold your skirt up a few inches off the floor by taking each side of your skirt between your thumb and forefinger. You can either do two turns, one for each three-beat bar, or one turn on the first three-beat bar. For the latter, you simply stand still for the last three-beat bar. You'll always turn to the right.

The Props: 

Female carinosa dancers often use fans. If you're the female dancer, you open your fan by giving it a firm shake. Once it's open, simply fan yourself to the music, matching each downward movement of the fan with one beat in the three-beat bar.

The handkerchief hide-and-seek is a key element of carinosa. Each partner holds two corners of the handkerchief and stand facing each other, holding the handkerchief so it blocks the view of the other partner's face. On the first beat of the three-beat musical bar, both partners lean to the right side and peek at each other around the handkerchief. They hold for a beat, then, on the third and final beat of the bar, they return to an upright position, holding the handkerchief so it is blocking the faces again. On the first beat of the next bar, the partners flip the handkerchief while still holding it, so if one partner had been holding the top two corners, he's now holding the bottom two corners, or vice versa. As they do so, they lean to the side and peek at the other partner around the handkerchief again. This series of movements continues for six bars in total; for the last two bars of the eight-bar section, the partners switch places by waltzing around each other while still holding the handkerchief. This entire sequence repeats. The hide-and-seek sequence can be performed with a fan instead of a handkerchief.

The female dancer of the carinosa pair holds her skirt with one or both hands, pinching the fabric of the skirt with the thumb and forefinger, at the side, at about mid-thigh level.

Source: eHOw

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