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Tinikling as a Dance and an Art

Tinikling a Philippine National Dance

When you talk of Philippine dances that help shape the Filipino culture and identity, then one dance that will always be there on top of the heap is the Tinikling.

This dance is an important part of the Filipino culture and others are saying that this dance is the national dance of the country. The dance has that indigenous and Hispanic roots and considered to be one of the oldest in the country. The dance has a rich history and everything about the dance has a story to tell- from the name of the dance to the legend how the dance has evolved.

The first time audience of this dance will observe that the dance will involve the movements that will require the dancers to avoid being hit by the moving bamboos. Actually there is a more compelling story and movements to it than that. This dance of the country imitates the movement of the tikling birds as these birds move and walk in between the grass stems, run over the tree branches or as these birds avoids bamboo traps. In this dance, the dancers imitate the fast and the graceful movement of these birds as these birds dodges the many hurdles they faced along the way and dancers do that by avoiding the bamboo poles. Simply put, the name tinikling just means bamboo dance in the English language.

According to some scholars and observers, this dance is from the Visayas region or more specifically from the islands of Leyte. The people in this province has described the movement in this dance as the movements of the tikling birds, thus that is how the name of the dance has evolved. There have been a number of stories that tell the origins of the dance, and this lore has been passed on for generations.

One story says that the dance was started by the people who worked on the rice fields in the provinces. It was the time when the Spaniards first set foot in the islands and the natives were sent to the haciendas. This was the time when the natives lost control of their lands since they are under the so-called encomienda system. Now, the people who worked slowly in the haciendas are often sent to the paddies for some form of punishment. And their punishment is to stand in between the two bamboo poles, and these two bamboo poles are clapped to hit the person's feet. And the natives will jump as the two bamboos hit each other in order to avoid the pain. This kind of punishment then brought more harm than good since the natives will sustain some bruises and they cannot work faster.

And the story has evolved, saying that the punishment has evolved into the dance that people now know as the Tinikling. And when this is danced the music that can be heard is the plucked strings in the Iberian-influence staccato that is interspersed with the tremolos and this music will be kept in time with the double stepping sway balances. And since this dance requires the avoidance of being hit by two moving bamboo poles, this dance has become an art and a dance.

This Tinikling dance is known for its five steps:

. First four steps will require the dancers to dance opposite each other.

. And the last step for the dance will call for the dancers to start from the same side of the poles.

The bamboo used in the dance is also used as the percussive instrument and this material is then banged to the ground in order to make a pattern of music. And when the bamboo closes then this should be hard enough so that it will make some sound and the dancers should be quick enough to avoid being hit by the two approaching bamboos.

And as the dance continues, the banging of the bamboo materials gets even harder and faster and the sound of the bamboos hitting each other thrills the crowd and motivates the crowd to move harder and faster. By tradition, this dance is performed in the country in certain Sundays. But right now, the Tinikling is no longer a punishment but a graceful ritual called dance.




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