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Tinikling dancers.

Tinikling is a traditional Philippine dance which originated during the Spanish colonial era.[1] The dance involves two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles on the ground and against each other in coordination with one or more dancers who step over and in between the poles in a dance. It is traditionally danced to rondalla music, a sort of serenade played by an ensemble of stringed instruments which originated in Spain during the Middle Ages.


The name "tinikling" is a reference to birds locally known as tikling, which can be any of a number of rail species; the term tinikiling literally means "tikling-like."[2]

The dance originated in Leyte, an island in the Visayas in the central Philippines. It imitates the movement of the tikling birds as they walk between grass stems, run over tree branches, or dodge bamboo traps set by rice farmers. Dancers imitate the tikling bird's legendary grace and speed by skillfully maneuvering between large bamboo poles.[3]

Legend has it that tinikling originated during the Spanish rule of the Philippines, when natives worked on large plantations under the control of the King of Spain. Those who didn't work productively were punished by standing between two bamboo poles.[4] This however, is a mere legend and has no historical basis.[citation needed]

Today tinikling is taught throughout the United States. In grades K-12 the dance is used as an aerobic exercise for physical education classes, to help expand physical movements such as hand coordination, foot speed, and also rhythm. Tinikling is commonly performed on special occasions such as the Filipino Independence Day as a celebration of Filipino culture and Filipino pride. [5]

The dance[edit]

Tinikling involves five steps; during the first four steps, the dancers dance opposite each other, and during the last step, they start from the same side of the poles. The bamboo is used as a percussive instrument as it is banged against the ground (or a piece of wood to make it easier to hold) and each other in a pattern. The bamboo has to be closed hard enough to make a sound, and the dancers must be quick enough to not get their foot (or feet) caught. As the dance continues, the banging of the bamboo becomes faster and harder, the sound of the clashing bamboo and the quickness of feet demonstrated by the dancers thrilling the crowd.

In the United States, this dance has been altered into a four-beat rhythm to adjust to popular music. In some cases, it has been used in conjunction with traditional Filipino martial arts to demonstrate fleetness of foot and flow of movement.[6]

For this traditional folk dance, females wear a dress called balintawak or patadyong, and males wear an untucked embroidered shirt called the barong tagalog. The balintawak are colorful dresses with wide arched sleeves and the patadyong is a pineapple fiber blouse paired with checkered skirts. The barong Tagalog uniform is usually lightweight long sleeved shirts and worn with red trousers. Dancers wear no footwear while performing.[7]

Similar dances are found throughout Asia, such as the Cheraw dance from India, Múa Sạp from Vietnam, Lao Kra Top Mai from Thailand, Robam Kom Araek from Cambodia, Karen or Chin Bamboo Dance from Myanmar, Alai Sekap in Brunei, Ami Bamboo Dance from Taiwan, and Magunatip from Sabah, East Malaysia.

Vicente I. De Veyra compiled tinikling music in his book, Mga Ambahan.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://www.likha.org/galleries/tinikling.asp
  2. ^ "Researchers probe possible origin of "tinikling" folkdance in Leyte. this is also umpawek..". Philippine Information Agency. 8 August 2006. Retrieved 15 January 2008. 
  3. ^ Horowitz, Gayle L. (2009). International Games: Building Skills Through Multicultural Play. Human Kinetics. p. 74. ISBN 9780736073943. 
  4. ^ "Philippine National Dance - Tinkling!". Likha Pilipino Folk Ensemble. 2012. Retrieved 5 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "Tinikling Revolution". Brown Nation website. 6 November 2008. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Kautz, Pete (2005). "The Tinikling: How Traditional Filipino Dance Can Develop Your Combative Attributes!". Alliance Martial Arts. Retrieved 15 January 2009. 
  7. ^ [[:Category:{{{1}}}|{{{1}}}]]
  8. ^ "Biography of Vicente I. de Veyra". Retrieved 19 May 2014.