Tinikling is a traditional Philippine dance which originated during the Spanish colonial era. 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 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.
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, some of which were adorned with thorns . To avoid being clapped in the ankles by the sticks, the natives would jump in and out of the sticks as they neared their feet. Thus, the movements of the dance were created This however, is a mere legend and has no historical basis.
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. 
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.
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.
When performed by dance troupes or in cultural shows, Tinikling is typically performed in the "Rural Suite," which includes dances originating from Filipino Christians that have a more "folksy" character. These dances originae mostly from the islands of Visayas and Luzon and imitate the simplicity and joy of the lifestyle of the Filipino villagers living in those regions. Other filipino folk dances of this category include Sayaw sa Bangko, Maglalatik, and Pandanggo sa Ilaw.
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. As mentioned earlier, tinikling is used as aerobic exercise for physical education classes in the United States for grades K-12. Instead of using traditional bamboo poles, most schools create their poles using plastic PVC pipe or wooden dowels. Another alternative is to tie elastic bands to the ankles of two students. The two students switch between jumping with their feet apart and their feet together to simulate the movement of the wooden poles. This way, more students are engaged in the aerobic exercise, rather than just the dancer.
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.
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