Tinikling Dance

Tinikling involves two people hitting 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. It originated in Leyte among the Visayan islands in central Philippines as an imitation of the tikling bird.

Once taught simply as a folk dance from the Philippines, it has recently become popular in the sports curricula of elementary schools as it involves skills similar to jumping rope. It’s now a new, fun form of aerobic exercise that also improves spatial awareness, rhythm, foot and leg speed, agility, and coordination.

Tinikling: Philippine Dance

There are now so many tinikling products available in the United States. Not just tinikling music CDs and dance-steps instruction DVDs, but also tinikling sticks and cords! For the authentic experience, you must find thick bamboo poles!

Listen to this introduction.

The tinikling dance is one of the most dramatic dances in the Philippines. It is named after the long-legged tikling bird.

The movements in the dance are an imitation of the tikling birds as they hop between tall reeds and tree branches.

Dancers perform along the sides and between two poles, which are struck together in time to the music.

Hopping in between the bamboo poles without getting caught demonstrates skill, but it is still a lot of fun even if you get caught.

The tinikling step is the basic step throughout the dance. Once you have mastered the step, the other fancy steps will come easy.

Divide yourselves in groups of four. Place the bamboo poles parallel to each other, about a foot and a half apart.

One board goes under each end of the poles, in a horizontal position, about four to six inches from the end of the poles.

Sit in Indian style, facing the record player.

Let’s get acquainted with the introductory music of the tinikling dance. Listen carefully to a three-four rhythm of eight majors.


Now we will clap to the rhythm in this manner. Make believe your two hands are the two poles being hit together.

Strike the palms of your hands against your thighs. Counts one two.

Strike palms together once. Count three.

Clap with me for eight majors.

Ready? And one two together. Two two together. Three two together. Four two three. Five two three. Six two three. Seven two three. Eight two three.