The Tinikling is an indigenous folk dance whose origin lies on the island of Leyte. The name refers to a bird that is known in the Philippines as Tikling, a term that is commonly used for a whole range of Squacco species.

The dance as we know it today is inspired by the bird’s showy gait when it struts through the grass with its long stilts and the way it runs through branches or dodges bamboo traps set up by rice farmers.



There are several stories about the origin of this dance. One of the most common ones is that it had arisen among field workers. When the Spanish controlled the Philippines, the indigenous locals often worked on the huge plantations and haciendas of the colonial rulers.



If someone worked too slowly, he had to fear harsh penalties. For the punishment, people had to stand between two spine-tipped bamboo poles, which were then struck against the feet of the offenders. These tried to escape the painful punshes by hopping over the rods. When the workers returned to their communities, they started training to escape the blows of the bamboo poles.



Out of this, first a competition evolved, then a skill, and finally a dance. Later, the movements of the Tikling bird were incorporated and the fixed sequences of steps emerged that determine the dance in its present form.

There are mainly four people taking part in the dance – two male and two female dancers. While one couple takes the dance position, the other couple takes over the handling of the bamboo sticks.



There is one person on either end of the sticks kneeling on the floor and facing each other. The bamboo poles are approximately 9 feet (about 2.75 m) long and are lying parallel next to each other on the floor in the beginning.

The Tinikling contains five specified step sequences which are determined by the beat of bamboo sticks. All dance steps consist of combinations of only three basic four-four steps. These are called singles (single steps), doubles (double steps) and hops (hopping steps).



According to SunnySideCircus