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How to Dance the Cariñosa: Steps and Costumes

I'm a mom from the beautiful country of the Philippines who loves writing about cultures and folk traditions.

Learn about the famous Filipino folk dance called the cariñosa, which is danced while wearing a beautiful patadyong like this one. Follow along with the steps to this beloved dance!

Learn about the famous Filipino folk dance called the cariñosa, which is danced while wearing a beautiful patadyong like this one. Follow along with the steps to this beloved dance!

About the Cariñosa, a Folk Dance From the Philippines

The cariñosa is a well-known folk dance. It was introduced to the Philippines by the Spaniards in the 16th century, and its name means "loving one" or "affectionate one." This dance is considered to be part of the María Clara Suite of Filipino dances, which were named in honor of María Clara, one of the main characters in Dr. José Rizal's famous epic novel called Noli Me Tángere ("touch me not" in English). Despite the Spanish influence behind the dances in this suite, they were very much adapted to the local culture.

The cariñosa depicts the courtship between a man and a woman during the colonial era. Because of that, it's usually danced by a pair of dancers—one male and one female—who face each other while dancing. It can also be performed by a group, but each group member needs a partner.

The movements in the dance resemble a game of hide-and-seek. The female dancer portrays a shy, modest character and holds a fan, waving it to the beat of the music. Meanwhile, the male dancer holds a handkerchief, and the couple uses this handkerchief to enhance the idea of hiding from each other and sneaking flirtatious peeks at each other.

Here is a group of dancers showing the traditional costumes and props for the cariñosa.

Here is a group of dancers showing the traditional costumes and props for the cariñosa.

Costumes and Props

The female dancer wears patadyong with a soft panhuelo. The male dancer wears barong Tagalog or kamisa de chino in any colors.

The props for this dance are essential: The woman must have a fan, and the man must have a handkerchief. These accessories can come in a variety of colors and patterns, as you can see in the photos and videos in this article.

Female Outfit

  • patadyong
  • panhuelo
  • fan

Male Outfit

  • barong Tagalog or kamisa de chino
  • handkerchief

What Does the Cariñosa Dance Look Like?

In this dance, performers should refrain from touching each other. Instead, their movements and expressions will show how the man is interested in the woman, while the woman is shy and wants to be chased.

When the music starts, the female dancer holds her skirt with one or both hands, swaying the fabric to the side while moving around the floor. She sways to the side with her left foot, then steps her right foot next to her left. As mentioned above, the female dancer uses a fan. She must fan herself to the beat of the music while dancing.

The couple glances at each other from behind the man's handkerchief as if they are playing peekaboo; each partner holds the corners of the hanky while blocking the other's face. They exchange flirtatious waves and gestures, and then the woman kneels down on one knee and fans herself while the man dances around her, and vice versa.

Dance Steps for the Cariñosa

The basic step of the cariñosa is similar to the waltz, and the music is 3/4 signature. If you want to learn the dance, here are the basic steps that you can follow:

Step 1: 3 step, turn, and bow facing each other.

Step 2: 3 step and point right-left direction in 16 counts.

Step 3: Touch step—3 step forward in 2 count. 4 touch steps, change position, then repeat.

Step 4:

  • 3 step forward and back to back.
  • 4 touch steps.
  • Change position and repeat the first two parts of step 4.

Step 5:

  • 3 step forward.
  • Female dancer opens her fan and starts fanning herself.
  • 4 touch steps.
  • Change position and repeat the first three parts of step 5.

Step 6:

  • 3 steps forward.
  • Male dancer moves forward, then kneels.
  • Female dancer taps the man with her fan and does 4 touch steps.
  • Change position.
  • Female dancer kneels as the pair looks at each other, and the man does 4 touch steps.

Step 7:

  • 3 steps forward.
  • Female dancer takes hold of the handkerchief.
  • The pair moves the hanky up and down four times.
  • Change position, then repeat the first three parts of step 7.

Step 8: Dance gracefully.

Try Dancing Along to a Video

You may want to follow the steps above to the beat of the video shown below. Enjoy learning this Filipino folk dance!

Fun Facts About the Cariñosa

  • In 2014, a bill was introduced that proposed to make the cariñosa the national dance of the Philippines as part of the establishment of a list of national symbols. The bill did not pass, however.
  • This dance comes from the Visayas region, especially Panay, and the Bicol region.
  • Other dances in the María Clara Suite include La Jota Moncadeña, which is danced with bamboo castanets, and the Mazurka Alcamfor, which also features a handkerchief—in this case, a handkerchief scented with camphor, hence the name.
  • The musical accompaniment for the cariñosa is usually provided by a rondalla, which is an ensemble of musicians playing plucked string instruments like the guitar and laúd. You can watch a video of a rondalla performing the cariñosa.
  • "Cariñosa" is also the name of a banana cultivar from the Philippines. It's known as an exceptionally sweet and delicious banana!

Comments

Kris Del Monte on February 27, 2015:

So Hard

7-Anthurium on October 01, 2013:

good dance..........................

nicka zenie on March 06, 2013:

so tired to write all steps!

jujanester (author) from Philippines on March 06, 2013:

yes indeed mary rose! It is something we need to teach to the next generations

mary rose samrano on March 05, 2013:

cultures are very important to us, gave an a importance........ to it..!