How to Dance Tinikling

bamboo image by cyndi Claessens from

Things You'll Need

  • Bamboo poles (if available)
  • Two 8- to 18-foot wooden closet dowels (if bamboo is not available)

Similar to the movement and idea of double-dutch jump roping, tinikling, the traditional and national dance of the Philippines, uses bamboo poles instead of ropes. The word tinikling translates in English to "bamboo dance." The dance requires two people to operate either end of the bamboo poles, which are held close to the floor, and at least one dancer to dance amongst the poles. The dance originated in the Visayan Islands, where the dance was created to imitate the graceful movements of the tinikling bird, which walks between grass stems and over tree branches.

Dancing the Tinikling

Simulate the 4/4 Tinikling beat the dancer and pole operators clapping the beat. The pole operators can also clap the poles together with the dancer standing outside of the pole area.

Jump twice with feet together between the two poles facing one operator, then jump twice with each foot on the outside of the poles. Hands can stay down or at your hips. The jumps should be quick, to stay in accordance with a four-count beat.

Repeat this, but add a twisting element. Jump twice with feet together inside the poles, then jump to have your feet outside the poles, but with a 180-degree turn. If you are facing front when you jump with your feet inside the poles, jump to face back and place feet outside the two poles. Turn and jump to face front again to return feet to inside the two poles. You should be constantly rotating to face each operator with each sequence.

Face the middle of the poles with feet inside the poles. Jump twice within the poles. Jump to straddle the feet with one foot front and one extended back on the outside of the poles. Complete the two jumps and return to jump twice within the poles. Repeat, alternating which foot is front and which is back if desired.


  • Practice the dance steps away from the poles first. Once the steps themselves are mastered, add the pole element. Use instrumental music as opposed to music with lyrics, as the beat of the music is more audible and defined, making it easier to dance on beat.


About the Author

Michelle Barry graduated from Salve Regina University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Since then, she has worked as a reporter for the Wilbraham-Hampden Times, an editor for Month9Books and Evolved Publishing, editor and has spent the past seven years in marketing and graphic design. She also has an extensive background in dance.

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