THUMBS UP. With a characteristic flicking of the thumbs and wide flinging arms, the kuradang is easily distinguishable Visayan dance that is now making the streetdancing mainstream in Bohol.

Sandugo 2019 shows Kuradang across Bohol history

With arms spread wide, thumbs sticking up like feather trimming for the dive and one foot lifted high, colorful Kuradang dancers, like winged raptors swirl through Tagbilaran City’s main thoroughfares dancing to the beat, one group expressing community victory, another celebrating of faith and yet another, of community achievement.

Yes, the kuradang of old, is now becoming a diverse expression of a community’s high moments or challenges, as in the ones shown by three top winning contingents in the recently concluded season of the Sandugo Festival.

A quaint Visayan paired dance that comes out only on community gatherings and weddings, Kuradang is now officially taking the main stream with the Bohol’s Sandugo Festival.

Not only that, Kuradang is now redefining Central Visayas’ street dancing festivals.

In a region where most culture based street dancing festivals are either an exact mimic of the Sinulog, kuradang sa Sandugo has shown creativity that never had a chance to come out when sinulog dance choreographers and their horde of production staff and outlandish props swarmed streetdancing festivals in the region.

It is believed that festivals that have street shows in dancing parades, sustain themselves in their being faith-based, while those which are  culture-based, they entail more efforts to survive.

THUMBS UP. With a characteristic flicking of the thumbs and wide flinging arms, the kuradang is easily distinguishable Visayan dance that is now making the streetdancing mainstream in Bohol. (PIA/Bohol)

Sandugo’s Kuradang is of the latter.

A festival that started to be whipped as a tourism event based on the historic blood compact between Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and native chieftain Si Katuna,  recent Sandugo foundation: Isang Dugo, has decided a couple of years ago to make Sandugo a real showcase of Boholano culture.

Kuradang, according to historian Marianito Luspo, is a native Visayan dance practiced in Bohol, Cebu, Leyte and Panay, which he theorized as sinu’og or sinulog in its purest form.

“This is the true ancestral dance of the Visayans, performed to the accompaniment of such percussion instruments as the drum and the gong, and set to the 2/2 time signature that is truly reflective of ethnic music,” Luspo was quoted in a newspaper article.

And set as a tourism event, Sandugo foundation organizers hope they could make the Bohol festival as festive.

A tourist would always want to see the original, why would they would go to watch a copy? Luspo illustrated the reason behind the decision to pick the kuradang.

CHICKEN DANCE. Chicken courtship is one of the motivations behind the kuradang as can be seen with the apparent flapping of the elbosw. (PIA/Bohol)

We wanted to depict a dance that is true to the Boholanos, capped creative director Lutgardo Labad, who led a team in workshops to allow participating contingents’ trainors and choreographers an authentically sourced out dance routine.

Unlike any street dance which uses flashy costumes and humongous props, Kuradang, a courtship dance focuses on hand and feet movements. The use of “Kuradang Dance Competition” instead of the generic “Street Dancing Competition” aims to be more rooted on Boholano aesthetic in dance, music, design and put a premium on local culture, innate artistry and most importantly, originality, a newspaper feature writer wrote.

According to the festival’s artistic committee head Lutgardo Labad, Sandugo’s use of the native Kuradang dance “as the main basis and inspiration for this year’s contest, being the most local of Boholano traditional dance expressions, allows the proliferation of Boholano creative genius will be fostered and “local aesthetics” developed.

This year in fact, instead of the traditional reenactment of the historic blood compact as the highlight of the street dancing, organizers again challenged choreographers and contingent creative teams to evoke the moments of victory, cultural icons and the Sandugo moments of unity and peace as their contingent’s highlights in the historical periods they represent.

HANDS OFF. Kuradang, a native dance that shows the social norm that keeps the demure image of the Filipina, is always done without holding hands, but the steps are as intimate and as engaging as the illustrative romance of love dances. (PIA/Bohol)

It was a tough challenge, but with kuradang as the dance that stiches across the times, it was possible and we did make it possible, a choreographer revealed.

And as the rumble of the drums during the street dancing died, the Kuradang that happened as Francisco Dagohoy gained his freedom from the oppressive friars got the judges nods.

Catigbian National High School took home this year’s Sandugo sa Kuradang grand championship, leading the 7 contingents which participated in this year’s streetdancing contest.

The kuradang that exploded as the church bell tower and the church of Baclayon was reopened after the earthquake of 2013 toppled it as a historical presentation from the post war to the present, was declared second.

Baclayon National High School took home the First runner up.

And the Kuradang from the Recollect Period which happened as the community in Tubigon danced in front of their church in the 1700’s romped away with the second runner up.

Across the periods in Bohol history, the kuradang dancers creatively worked on the raw steps and hand movements to depict historically correct details every Boholano should know and be proud up.

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