La Estudiantina Filipino Dance

La Estudiantina is a Spanish-inspired dance of the Philippines. The country was under the rule of Spain for more than three hundred years, during which time local culture was markedly influenced. 

Young women who studied (at home with tutors for instance) used to be called estudiantina (male students were called estudiante), and this dance was originally performed by women carrying a book or a fan, items associated with female students. There are many regional versions of this dance. The one in the video below is from Samar. There is also another popular version from Quezon province.

Philippine dances derived from Spanish influences, such as the La Estudiantina, are classified as Sayawing Maria Clara (Maria Clara Dances). Maria Clara is the main female character in the Spanish-era novel Noli MeTangere, written by Filipino national hero Jose Rizal.

Maria Clara also refers to a women’s style of clothing popular during Spanish times, which is worn as traditional Filipino costume even today. Filipina performers of dances like the La Estudiantina wear Maria Clara-style dresses.