The Evolution of Tinikling

Tinikling is perhaps the most famous traditional dance of the Philippines. Based on the movements of the tikling bird, Tinikling is a form of dance in which two people clap two poles of bamboo together while other dancers weave through and try to avoid getting their feet caught between the bamboo. The dance originated in the Visayas region of the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era. It’s a dance that involves a lot of skill (and a lot of ice if you’re ankles get caught between the bamboo). It’s refreshingly fun, and relatively easy to learn.

In fact Tinikling has become so widespread, that it’s often used in American P.E. classes as an aerobics exercise. And this has brought about an interesting shift in younger Filipinos and Filipino-Americans: the modernisation of tradition.

Originally, Tinikling is performed in national costume and to the tune of Philippine folk songs played by an ensemble composed of traditional Filipino and Spanish string instruments.

But this is where tradition takes a turn for a more modern audience. With its naturally rhythmic nature, Tinikling is a great form of dance for modern songs with strong percussion and bass. Filipino youth all over the world have begun embracing the tradition of Tinikling while mixing it with the music of today.

It’s a reflection of the past with a look towards the future. It’s a combination of cultures – traditional dance with modern songs – that has struck a chord with Filipino youth; a chord that, I think, is resoundingly optimistic.