Dancing, Marching and Baton Twirling with the Virgin: Performing Community at the Peñafrancia Festival in the Philippines

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Abstract

The Peñafrancia Festival in the Bicol region of the Philippines has the distinction of being the largest Marion festival in Asia, with a focus on the power of Mother Mary to intercede on behalf of the faithful. It is also known for its “fluvial procession” down a narrow river on the final Sunday when a sacred icon of Mary leaves Naga City’s main cathedral and returns to her year-round home in a nearby basilica. Connected with the religious festival are a range of performance practices that mobilise the youth, notably theatricalised street dance presentations that mirror the religious practices undertaken by the town’s adults, as well as precision marching band and baton twirling presentations in the city’s main public square. These constitute the most widely practiced forms of competitive, community-based performance engaged in by the region’s youth. This article examines these two key spin-off practices associated with the festival, and considers how in their design and execution they serve to define the individual’s place in relation to others, and in so doing, create coherent communities through shared, embodied practices of performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-61
Number of pages37
JournalAustralasian Drama Studies
Volume76
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Keywords

  • Festivals
  • Philippines
  • street dancing
  • marching bands

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