Vibrant and foot-tapping performances at Muscat Festival

Muscat - 

Dances have been an important form of celebration, ceremonies, rituals and festivals. Barangay, a dance troupe which calls itself the oldest in the Philippines, is performing at the Muscat Festival this year. 

The Philippines has many popular folk dances which have evolved and changed as they have passed down from generation to generation. A particular dance performance may vary from region to region, but it stays close to its roots. Allan Concepcion, leader of this troupe says that this is the first time it is performing in Oman. “We are at the festival with a group of 15.

Barangay was the oldest group, formed in 1947.  But after the original choreographer died, the group split.” At the festival, the group mainly represents dances from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao regions. From the national dance Tinikling, which pays homage to the movements of a much-loved bird, to dances that reflect elements of daily Philippine life, there are many that visitors can enjoy.

Tinikling

Tinikling is considered to be the national dance of the Philippines. The movements imitate the tinkling bird as it walks around through tall grass and between tree branches. Dancers use bamboo poles and the performance looks similar to playing jump rope. The dance is composed of three basic steps which include singles, doubles and hops. The dance picks up pace till a dancer makes a mistake and the next set of dancers takes a turn.

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Itik-Itik

The story behind how this dance form came into being goes thus: A lady named Kanang choreographed the steps while dancing at a baptism party. Other guests copied her movements, and everyone liked the dance so much that it has been passed down generations. The Itik-Itik’s steps mimic a duck’s walk, and the way it tries to attract a mate by splashing water on its back. Binasuan The Binasuan is an entertaining dance that is usually performed at festive occasions like weddings and birthdays.

Dancers carefully balance three half-filled glasses of a rice brew on their heads and hands as they gracefully spin and roll on the ground. The dance originated in Bayambang in the Pangasinan province, and though it’s usually performed alone, it can also be a competition between several dancers.

Coconut dance

The coconut dance or the Maglalatik is a mock war dance depicting a fight over coconut meat, a highly-prized food. The dance is performed in four parts: Two for battle and two for reconciliation. The male dancers wear coconut shells on their costumes, and slap them in rhythm with the music. The Maglalatik is performed at the procession of the fiesta of Biñan as an offering to San Isidro de Labrador, the patron saint of farmers.

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Polkbal

This dance has European influence and is composed of nine steps which include various movements such as fluttering, stepping heel-to-toe, a reenactment of a bull fight, and even a leisurely walk. Concepcion added, “We are really excited to perform at the show. Usually the performance lasts 20-30 minutes. This is a great way to take our culture to the rest of the world. Our dances are inspired by daily life.” The performers at Naseem Gardens will also be putting up shows at Amerat Park.

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