World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


KARIKTAN Dance Company

Dance Origin: Mindanao Islands, Philippines
Artistic Director/Choreographer:
Polly Manalo-Herrera

First Appearance at SF EDF: 2000

KARIKTAN Dance Company is a not-for-profit cultural group, based in Concord. It was formed in 2003 by the Artistic Director Polly Herrera, a former performing artist and choreographer with the world famous Bayanihan Philippine Dance Company. Having previously performed under the name of Marharlika, KARIKTAN means beauty, splendor, and brilliance in the Filipino language, and the group shares the beautiful culture and heritage of the Philippines through music, dance, and song.


Titles: Vinta Sails, Paunjalay, Singkil
Dancers: Jonathan Aburquez, Winston Balingit, Bless Bravo, Andrew Cauilan, Anthony Cauilan, Rachel Cauilan, Lexie Cosas, Joyce Cueto, Janice Dalida, Collin Domingo, Andro Dongallo, Angelica Dongallo, Ric Dongallo, Bo Falcon, A.J. Gawaren, Valerie Geronimo, Stephanie Herrera, Vanessa Hovan, Rachel Meren, Carrie Villanueva, Marlo Villanueva
Janine Castillo, Mick Herrera, Polly Herrera, Robbie Herrera (lead instrumentalist)

Mindanao was a layover on the ancient Southeast Asian trade routes, and for centuries, this southern Philippine island entranced Arab, Hindu, Chinese, and Persian merchants. In the 1500s, Mohammed Kabungsuwan established a sultanate, and over time, the form of Mindanao Muslim dance became known for its mysticism, royalty, and beauty. In this trio of dances, dancers show the particular elasticity and suppleness of the form—they emphasize curves with their apparently joint-less, back-turned hands, their flexible arms, and their rounded posture.

The first dance, Vinta Sails, reenacts the pre-historic immigration to the Philippines in one of humankind's greatest maritime feats: crossing the Pacific in open vinta boats.

Paunjalay is a pre-nuptial dance of the Yakan tribe of Basilan Island. It features complicated footwork and paunjalay movements that imitate fish. The white dots on the couple's faces hide their identity from evil spirits.

Singkil is a well-loved Maranao (northern Mindanao) dance from the ancient Darangan Epic. In the classic story (named after a princess's ankle bells) a princess is wooed by a prince. Here, we witness the regal splendor and grace of the southern sultanates, with an umbrella-holding attendant, and fan-wielding ladies of the court. And we can admire the royal couple's elegant hauteur, even as bamboo poles threaten to catch their ankles! Tradition has it that royal daughters learned this dance as a sign of courtly accomplishment.

Vinta Sails was recently researched in the Philippines and there is no known choreographer. This piece was staged for the first time by KARIKTAN in 2008. Paunjalay and Singkil are signature dances of KARIKTAN, presented with new choreography, and greater pomp and pageantry.

The costumes are typically Mindanao Muslim: bright colors with gold, intricate jewelry, the tubular malong, embellished with pearls and rhinestones, bamboo poles and long swords, shields with emblems, and an embroidered umbrella decorated with the Sarimanok, the mythical bird of the southern islands. The music is also typical, played by an ensemble similar to Indonesia's gamelan: the kulintang (a series of eight small brass gongs); the agong slit drum; the deep, resonant gandingan (a series of four huge flat slit drums); the dabakan drums; and the gabang, a bamboo xylophone.


TITLE OF PIECE: Legend of Sarimanok
DANCERS: Jonathan Aburquez, Sheryl Aquino, Stacy Aquino, BlessBravo, Andrew Cauilan, Lexie Cosas, Anne Doroja, Kenneth Gaceta, Mark Gaceta, Stephanie Herrera, Mike Lim, Ellys Marasigan, Rachel Meren, Reenah Mesina, J.R. Ramirez, Kristin Salgado, Brian Villamor
MUSICIANS: Anthony Cauilan, Nina Ignacio, Mick Herrera, Polly Herrera, Robbie Herrera, Jason Ramirez

The dance version of the legend of Sarimanok represented by Kariktan Dance Company, portrays the tale of an earthly prince seeking to win the love of a celestial goddess who comes to earth on Fridays to bathe in a perfumed well. In order for the prince Radia Indarapatra to win the love of his beloved Goddess of the Moon, he must search the forest for the celestial Sarimanok who takes him to heaven.

A traditional kulintang orchestra accompanies the dance. Referring to the series of brass gongs spread across the stage, kulintang translates as “golden sound moving.” Based on traditional southern Mindanao paraphernalia, the fascinating costumes, jewelry, props and colors used in the presentation all have historic and symbolic significance.

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