Kuratsa is a popular and lively dance that is very common among the old folks of Waray. It has many different versions.
The Kuratsa is highly favored by the Waray people of the Eastern Visayan region in the Philippines. Strictly speaking, The Kuratsa must be done the amenudo; that is, only one couple dances it at a time. the Kuratsa is however, very different in the manner of execution to the Mexican counterpart. Even the "basic" Kuratsa music is not based on Mexican or even Spanish melodies but just bolero-inspired lilting music. A very interesting dance caught up the eyes of the beholder.
Philippine dance researchers, however, point either to the Kigal and the Bikal as the 'ascendant' of the Kuratsa. The Kigal (spelled "Quigal" in early Spanish writings on Samar culture and lifeways) is a sort battle-of-sexes couple dance that imitate mating birds. The Kigal is in fact called by another name: Binanug or Kiglun (Kigalun?) according to a 17th century Samarnon dictionary by Jesuit missionary to Samar, Fr. Alcazar. It is interesting that banug is the Waray word for the 'hawk'.
The Bikal is rather believed to be the forerunner of the Waray Balitaw because of the strict emphasis on "joust" of impromptu songs interspersed with dancing. The bikal is survived by the Ismayling or Ismaylingay and many versions of this art is preserved by aging magsiriday (poets well versed in Waray traditional forms of poetry) in Samar and to a lesser extent Leyte.
The Kigal dance step called 'sabay' is in fact very similar to the Kuratsa dance step called dagit or when more daring the sagparak. Dagit means 'swoop' while sagparak is descriptive of a heated bulang (cockfight). The block and chase portion of the Kuratsa (called palanat) is never seen in the Mexican social dance La Cucaracha but is very common among Samar amenudo (or couple dances) like the Ismaylingay, Amoracion, Alimukon, Linggawen, Kuradang and Pantomina.
Popular versions of this dance presently existing in Samar can be classified as the Kuratsa Menor (the usual favorite) and the many versions of the daring Kuratsa Mayor. New genres of Kuratsa evolved as a result of necessity, like-as the name implies- Kuratsa kanan Kadam-an (mass Kuratsa) and a very funny Kuratsa nga Pinayungan (Kuratsa under umbrellas) appropriate for rainy days.
Though highly popular in Eastern Visayas, the kuratsa is also 'native' to almost all Visayan Islands. Popular of these non-Eastern Visayan Kuratsa are the Kuratsa Boholana, Capiceña, Hamtic, Pulupandan and Tibiao. Cebu's version is called Alap (when performed by a groom and bride) or Alusalos/Galagala when performed as a festival dance. Another Cebuano dance that features the kuratsa is the very popular La Berde. The first figure if the La Berde is a Kuratsa and so with the accompanying music.
Kuratsa versions in the Bikol region were mentioned by Francisca Reyes Aquino but none have, heretofore, been published in her volumes of folk dance books. Kuratsa could have been introduced by Samareños to their Bikolano relatives. Nevertheless, it was insufficient in influence to supplant the highly favored pantomina or salampati. Small 'streaks' of the kuratsa could be observed in Albay's Sinakiki (also called Sinisiki in Prieto-Diaz, Sorsogon) and Inkoy-inkoy.
In a very rare instance, a Kuratsa version was found in Ilocos Norte. The Kuratsa Paoay though, is performed quiet differently from the Visayan versions. In fact, the dance is finished by the Ilocano Ariquenquen dance. The Ariquenquen is the traditional "last figure" of Ilocano dances especially the jota.
Waray Kuratsa Dance Steps and Terminologies
- Pag-adu or pag-iruk
Literally means "calling out a pair". In the Waray region, the pairing is ceremonial. The names of the dancing pair are called out loud by the parag-adu. Jokes are often belted when the dancing couple started walking to the dance floor. In the olden days when microphones were not heard of, an old man would be assigned as a parag-adu. Old men usually have an uway nga baston (rattan walking cane). The cane was often struck by these old men in front of the person whom he choose to do the kuratsa; because of this the parag-adu is also called bastonero (someone who uses a cane).
- Paseo or Pasyando
Paseo or pasyando could have been derived from the Spanish verb pasear which means 'to walk'. The paseo is usually the first kuratsa step performed. It is simply done as a series of "leisurely" walk around the dance floor while the introductory part-or at times upto the first part-of the Kuratsa music is played. Oftentimes, one of the called names on the adu would be a little later in going to the dance floor, hence, walking around the dance floor of the one who came earlier is sensible. The paseo serves as an ice-breaker because it gives the dancers some time to prepare for the steps they want to execute.
- Parayaw (Padayaw)
Parayaw (showing-off to the point of attracting attention) refers to the ingenious dance movements usually done by the male dancer to attract or get the attention of his partner. This portion is likened to a very aggressive cockerel skirting closely and jealously the hen of his choice. The woman would usually ignore the partner's parayaw. She would continue her dance steps making sure that she evades her partner's advances.
Palanat is the chase part of the Kuratsa. Both dancers execute either (1) rapid lateral positioned arms reversed every measure or (2) forearm turns. Dancers use rapid waltz steps going around the dance floor, the leading dancer looking back to the chasing partner from time to time. The female does the first palanat and then the male.
- Lubay-lubay (Iwō-Iwō)
Flirtatious hip-sways done only by the women. The lubay-lubay is usually done with the back turned agained the partner. This naughty step elicits so much fun from the onlookers.
- Sinakiki or Siki-siki
Siki in the Samarnon Waray language means both ‘a foot’ or ‘feet’. Siki-siki or sinisiki refers to the rapid walking steps with both feet maintained close to each other. This step is also called titikud or tinitikud from the word tikud which is ‘heel’. The siki-siki indeed is like a rapid walking step that the heel in front is always caught up by the other heel. Women dancers usually lift their skirts a little higher so as not to get caught by the feet.
Among the weirdest tradition of the Eastern Visayan versions of the Kuratsa dance is the tying of a male dancer’s hand with a handkerchief to signify that he is no longer available for any partner except for that girl whose hand is also tied with the same handkerchief. The bastonero can no longer make that man an adu to any other woman. This unique custom is practiced only in Ormoc, Leyte and not on the rest of the Eastern Visayan region. Gapus (literally “bound” or “tied”) is also the same term used by the folks of Can-avid, Eastern Samar to the act of a dance sponsor’s (nagpabayle or nagpasarayaw) holding of the female dancer’s arm to stop her from dancing. The swooped female dancer called ginapus or dinagit is brought to a side and is kept from dancing until the male dancer makes a gala or sabwag. The gapus is usually done when the male dancer has become too ecstatic with his dancing and forgets to make a gala or sabwag. This “reminder” of sort elicits so much fun among the folks and is often made fun of by the bastonero.
- Dagit also called Dagil
- Wali (Skirt Lifting)
This very naughty part of the Kuratsa is a popular practice among the people of Calbayog. The male dancer sneakily lifts the skirt of the female dancer to expose her midcalf. This act is commonly done by funny old men when paired with a younger partner. The woman usually responds by moving away from the man while brushing her skirt down. Highly formal Kuratsa dancers are of course, not doing this especially nowadays that skirts are getting shorter and shorter.
- Birik-birik or Tuyuk-tuyuk
- Paggala or Pagsaburak/Pagsabwag
Kuratsa Dance Notation
KURATSA (Tacloban, Leyte)
Introduction. Partners join inside hands, free hands down at the sides. Starting with the R foot, take three steps forward (cts 1,2,3). Put feet together and bow to partner or audience (ct 1)…..[2M] Dancers separate about six feet apart. The last two counts of the music are not played until the partners are in their proper places.
FIGURE I. Music A.
a. Starting with the R foot take three steps forward to be side-by-side (L to L shoulder) at center (cts 1, 2, 3, 1); transfer weight to R foot in rear (cts 2), transfer weight to l Foot in front (cts 3). Hands down at the side and swing naturally in time with the music or the girl holds skirt, boys hand on waist while doing the four steps forward on cts 1, 2, 3 1. Right arm in fifth position and L hand on waist when transferring weight on cts 2, 3…..[2M] b. Starting with the R foot, take four steps backward to proper places. Hands as in (a) (4 cts), two-step turn R in place, girl holding skirt, boy’s hands on waist 92cts)…..[2M] c. Repeat (a), this time partners stand by each other’s R shoulder at center…..[2M] d. Starting with the R foot, take four steps forward to partner’s place (4 cts), two-step turn R about to face partner (2 cts)…..[4M] e. Repeat all (a to d), finishing in proper places, facing each other….[8M]
FIGURE II Music B. a. Sway balance with a raise, R and L. Arms in fourth position, R and L arms high or bent at shoulder level, opening and closing with a forearm turn…..[4M] b. Execute three waltz half-turns R to partner’s place (one waltz step for every half-turn) Forearm turns R and L alternately. Finish facing partner. Pass each other by L shoulders…..[3M] c. Repeat (a and b), finishing in proper places…..[7M] d. Repeat all (a to c)…..[14M]
FIGURE III Music C.
Face L- Boy faces audience, Girl, away from audience. Starting position- R foot in fifth in front.
a. With the R foot leading, take seven mincing steps moving sideward R toward partner’s place (take six mincing steps for the first three counts and only one on the fourth count). R arm in fifth position, L hand on waist (4 counts). Turn R about on the ball of R foot (2 cts)…..[2M] b. With the L foot leading, repeat (a) going to partner’s place. Reverse position of the arms (4 cts), turn L about on the ball of L foot (2 cts)…..[2M] c. Repeat (a)…..[2M] d. Cross-turn R. Bend trunk and knees slightly while turning and straighten them at the close of the turn. Salok L hand across the body while turning R hand on waist or in fifth position. Finish facing each other…..[2M] e. Repeat all (a to d), finishing in proper places facing partner…..[8M]
FIGURE IV Music B.
a. repeat Figure II (a)…..[4M] b. Starting with the R foot take 2 waltz step forward to form one line at center facing audience, girl stand in front of the partner (2M). Pause (1M)…..[3M] c. Take four waltz steps sideward , R and L alternately. Arms in lateral position, moving sideward Rand L alternately….[4M] d. Repeat Figure II (b)…..[3M] e. Repeat all (a to d), finishing in proper places…..[14M]
FIGURE V Music C.
Face L as in Figure III.
a. Execute tiny steps moving to sideward R. The R foot steps forward and backward alternately, while the L moves little-by-little to sideward R. Partners meet at the center in a back-to-back position at the end of the fourth measure. R arm in fifth and L bent at shoulder level…..[4M] b. With partners in back-to-back position and close to each other, continue doing the same step, turning clockwise in place. Arms as in (a)…..[4M]
Partners face each other. c. Continue doing the same step moving clockwise. Reverse the postion of the arms every 2 measures or on every measure…..[6M] d. Waltz-turn R to proper places. Arms as in Figure II (b)…..[2M]
FIGURE VI Music B.
a. Sway-balance with a hop, r and L. Arms in fourth position, R and L arm high alternately…..[4M] b. Take two waltz steps forward to meet partner at the center. Arms in lateral position, moving sideward R and L (2M). Pause (1M)…..[3M] c. R arm bent forward at shoulder level, L arm in fifth position. Point R foot sideward (cts 1, 2), point R close to L in first position and bend body jerkily toward pointing foot and at the same time lowering R elbow close to waist (ct 3)…..[2M] d. Repeat (c) …..[2M] e. Starting with the R foot, take two waltz step forward to partner’s place. Arms as in (b), passing by R shoulders…..[2M] f. Waltz-turn r about. Finish facing partner. Arms in Figure II (b) ,,,,,[1M] g. Repeat all (a to f), finish in proper places…..[14M]
FIGURE VII Music B. Play faster and once only.
a. Starting with the R foot, take two waltz step forward to meet at center. Arms in lateral position, moving sideward R and L…..[2M] b. With the girl leading, partners waltz to any direction as if the boy is chasing the girl. Girl turns around to face partner once in a while, then continues to move in any desire direction. Arms as in (a)…..[10 M] c. Partners join inside hands, Girl standing at the R (1m), bow to each other or to audience (1M)…..[2M]
Philippine Folk Dances Volume 1 By Francisca Reyes Aquino © 1953 by Francisca Reyes Aquino Word-by-word copied from pages 59 and 60.
- Kuratsa at You Tube