Local school for folk dance pushed in Eastern Visayas

By Roel Amazona

February 27, 2018, 3:12 pm

TACLOBAN CITY -- The Leyte-Samar Heritage Society is pushing for the establishment of a school that will teach "Kuratsa", a local folk dance in Eastern Visayas to young generations.

“'Kuratsa' is still popular in our region, but we need to strengthen the awareness and consciousness of our youth to this dance because this is a heritage dance,” said University of the Philippines Tacloban professor Joyce Dorado Alegre of the Leyte-Samar Heritage Society on Monday.

This can be achieved by establishing a school for folk dance enthusiasts aimed at raising awareness on the dynamics of the traditional dance.

“Although most youth in the region know how to dance 'Kuratsa', learning its steps is not enough. One must also learn how to properly execute the steps and its meaning,” Alegre added in an interview.

The official said that in Indonesia, there were schools focusing on teaching their traditional dances to students.

Holding "Kuratsa" dance competition had been helping in introducing the dance to younger generations, but having a formal mode of transmission was better, said Alegre.

Currently, there’s only one school for living traditions in the region - the Basiao National High School in Basey, Samar that teaches children how to weave mats.

Kuratsa is one of the traditional dances in Leyte and Samar province. It is widely danced especially during fiesta, family reunions, and weddings.

It is referred to as a courtship dance where dancers imitate courtship movements of rooster and a hen in a creative way.

"When it is danced in a wedding, this becomes an expression of commitment of the family or affirmation of the clan and community in welcoming the newlywed," explained Alegre, a former steering committee chair of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Unlike other traditional dances in the Philippines, "Kuratsa’s" dance steps vary in different provinces in the region.

"Kuratsa Menor" is the most popular while other versions are "Kuratsa Mayor", "Kuratsa han Kadam-an", and "Kuratsa nga Pinayungan".

Movement of "Kuratsa" dance in Leyte is graceful yet gentle, emphasizing on the movement of female dancer, whose movement of feet is fine and intricate, a ritualistic dance.

The "Kuratsa" dance in Samar is more playful and lively where dancers especially men sometimes do fancy movements like imitating a rooster attracted to a hen.

“Dancing "Kuratsa" depends on the level of the dancer’s expertise and of the community. The more expert the dancer is, the more difficult the movements are,” she added.

In community, dancing "Kuratsa" is a way of raising fund because of the "gala" or "abwag".

"Gala" is the money that people offer to dancers, while "abwag" is the money tossed up on air by the dancers or the people who offer their money.

Mostly, "abwag" is done when politicians are the ones dancing Kuratsa or someone from a higher social status.

"'Kuratsa' sometimes helps politicians become more popular during campaign period. It’s a dance of affirmation of unity and sense of belonging. It’s really a community dance that helps strengthen people's social life,” Alegre added. (PNA)

Photo courtesy of Region 8 Administrator's League