Thursday, February 7, 2013


Here for Thursday is another multi-cultural post.  My review post will be up tomorrow, check it out for a post on Mallet Madness and how I use it in my TINY music room (though I can't complain because at least I have a room)

Today's post is on tinikling.  This is a dance from the Phillippines.  The dance is done in groups of 4- two tapping the bamboo poles and two jumping in various patterns.  I love this dance. It is one of he only things I remember from my Elementary Music class and is one my students always ask to bring back.  I am hoping to collaborate with the gym teacher this year so we can spend more time, and more importantly have more space to try it out.  I always teach it initially in 4th grade and then bring it back in 5th and 6th.

See a great video here:

Before I get to the dance itself, let me give you a bit of background.  The dance originated in the Visayan Islands on the Island of Leyte. There are two stories of how the dance originated.  One is that the dancers are imitating the tikling bird (heron) which hops fom tree branch to tree branch very gracefully and can dodge bamboo traps set by farmers.  The other is not so happy.  It is said that when the Spanish over took the Phillippines (between 1500 and 1898) and  sent the Filipino people to the haciendas and forced them to work in the fields and paddies, they would punish them for not working fast enough.  This punishment would consist of the workers standing between two bamboo poles cut from the grove. Sometimes these poles would still have thorns sticking out from the sections.  These poles would be clapped together to beat the workers feet.  By jumping when the poles were apart, the natives could escape some of the punishment.  By practicing the jumping to escape punishment, the dance formed into what it is today- the national dance of the Phillippines.  

I have seen the dance done with both 3/4 music and 4/4.  Most resources you see list the steps in 4/4 patterns, but the videos use 3/4.  Traditionally the dance is done in 3/4 but many groups have expanded to 4/4 because it is easier for beginners and there is more 4/4 music.  I do it in 3/4 because it is always good to work in a triple meter. 

There are 3 basic types of steps.  Singles, doubles, and hops.  Singles and hops have one foot touching the floor at a time, and doubles has two.  

For the dance, you need two poles per group set up parallel to each other as well as stands to prop the poles up about 1.5 inches from the floor.  There is one tapper at each end and they click the poles together once, then tap them about 1 foot apart on the stands twice. The jumpers then do thir steps in the basic pattern of: out, in, in.  Singles are one foot at a time and can be done staying on one side of the poles or traveling across them. Doubles are one hop with feet straddling the poles, then two inside.  Hops are just a fancy variation of singles.  Any of the steps can then be altered slightly with turns or partner work to make them more visually interesting.  Check out this website for more info on different variations for the steps:

I just got my poles and stands from amazon.  They are real bamboo.  The also now have fabric bands and plastic poles, but using the real bamboo makes it more authentic to me.

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