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Danza is a folk dance of Cuban origin which became popular in the late 19th century, also known as habanera or danza habanera. The habanera is a social dance in duple time and performed in a ballroom or on a stage.

The Argentine writer Carlos Vega (1898-1966) traces its origin to the English contradance or square dance, which was then assimilated into Spain as contradanza or danza. Around 1825, it was brought to Cuba in this form where it was combined with Afro-Cuban rhythms; and around 1850, it was transformed into the habanera. It might have been popularized in the Philippines in the latter part of the 19th century through the sarswela which came in 1878. Used as intermissions or as integral parts of the drama, the vocal section of the habanera must have been discarded as Filipino playwrights started producing sarswela in their own languages.

An example of the Filipinized version is the habanera from Magsingal, Ilocos Sur. Characterized by hand movements called kumintang, this dance depicts the modest and retiring traits of the Ilocano woman. The dance can be performed by any number of pairs. Dancers are dressed in Ilocano peasant costume. The music is in 2/4 time, and is divided into four sections(A-B-C-D), each composed of eight bars. Section A is repeated immediately before going to Section B which is likewise repeated. Sections C and D are played three times in pairs resulting to the form: A-A-B-B-C-D-C-D-C-D. All four sections are in a major key but the music modulates to the dominant in section C. The rhythms explored are very similar to those typically used in the Western habanera. The habanera botoleña from Botolan, Zambales was originally a dance for a departing parish priest. It later became a festival dance marking such occasions as weddings, baptismal parties, and barrio fiestas. Other versions are the habanera capizeña from Capiz, habanera jovencita from Pampanga, and habasinan from Pangasinan. Folk songs like the Visayan "Walay Angay ang Kamingaw" (Uncomparable Sadness), the Tagalog "May Isang Bulaklak na Ibig Lumitaw" (There's a Flower Wanting to Come Out), and the Ilocano "Ti Ayat ti Maysa nga Ubing" (The Love of a Young Maiden), have employed the tempo of habanera. The same tempo was used by Dolores Paterno's "La Flor de Manila" (The Flower of Manila), Julio Nakpil's "Recuerdos de Capiz" (Memories of Capiz), Nicanor Abelardo's "Ikaw Rin" (It's Up to You), Francisco Santiago's "Anong Ligaya Ko" (How Happy I Am), Antonio Molina's "Hatinggabi" (Midnight), and Juan Hernandez's "Ulila sa Pag-ibig" (Lonely in Love). * J. B. Malabuyoc.

Source: CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art
Volume VI - Philippine Music

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