This past weekend was Children’s Day in Korea. Since Jo and I don’t have children, we opted to celebrate the day at Seoul Plaza and the Friendship Festival. While there some wonderful Filipinas got me out to try my hand at the tinikling, a traditional Filipino dance.
The tinikling dance is one of the most popular and well-known of traditional Philippine dances.The tinikling is a pre-Spanish dance from the Philippines that 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. The name is a reference to birds locally known as tikling, which can be any of a number of rail species; the term tinikling literally means “tikling-like.”
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 also 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 and awing the crowd. In the United States, this dance had 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.
The dance originated in Leyte among the Visayan islands in the central Philippines as an imitation of the tikling bird dodging bamboo traps set by rice farmers. The dance 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.
Have you ever tried doing something like this? Would you do it in public?