Music, Dance, and Negotiations of Identity in the Religious Festivals of Bicol, Philippines

Adiova, Marilyne Antonette (2014) Music, Dance, and Negotiations of Identity in the Religious Festivals of Bicol, Philippines. Doctoral thesis, University of Michigan.

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This dissertation examines the relationships between music, dance, faith, memory, the objectification of tradition, and tourism found in religious festivals in Bicol, Philippines. The three case studies of this dissertation explore festivals as complex, ever-changing phenomena that are shaped in many ways by the dynamic between religious and secular communities. The first case study discusses the shift of the Tinagba Festival in Iriga City, Philippines from a community festival into a regional event, and examines the tensions that exist between the Catholic Church, local government, and private sector in its planning. The second case study examines the push and pull between the Church and the local government over the Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City. The third case study discusses the roles of memory and music in the staging of the Feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Michigan and the ways in which members of a Bicolano diaspora community reconstruct and modify aspects of culture through shared memories, music performance, and current circumstances. The analyses in this study give particular attention to street dancing competitions, as these events are highlights of almost every Philippine festival on local, regional, and national levels. Street dancing competitions consist of music and dance choreography that portray aspects of culture meant to represent traditional and regionally specific aspects of Bicol. Participants are judged on the music performed and the coordinated movements of the dances. While judges look for creativity among the competing groups, they also adjudicate how well groups espouse the values and identity of the community and region they represent. This study argues that festivals are not merely occasions of celebration that provide breaks from the everyday and the mundane; they also bring to the fore the continuous negotiation of tensions between the most powerful institutions of the region—religion and government—and the manner in which individuals and communities express identity for local, national, and international audiences. Moreover, music and dance in these festivals illustrate how local notions of power and prestige in social hierarchies shape the reception of aesthetic ideas in performance.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: religion, cultural performance criticism, dance, Bicol, dance criticism, festival, music, cultural performance
Depositing User: Machine Whisperer
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2017 05:48
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 05:48

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