Filipino Folk Dance Steps

Robin Raven
Cultural dancers

Filipino folk dances are diverse and varied with a long cultural history. Their history includes the coming of Roman Catholicism through the Spanish, and many of the early folk dances were influenced by these Spaniards. However, each dance type retains its own unique culture and style in addition to the Spanish influences. If you want to learn to perform some of the dances, whether just for fun or to learn more about the rich culture of the Phillipines, try out these moves and steps.

Tinikling

As the best known and most popular dance of the Phillipines, Tinikling is the country's national dance. To perform Tinikling, two dancers beat, tap, and slide bamboo poles on the ground. The bamboo serves as both a percussion instrument and a part of the dance itself. Tinikling can be tricky because both primary dancers must move quickly to avoid getting a foot caught by the fast-moving poles.

Click on the images below for printable PDF guides to doing the Tinikling dances. Refer back to the guides any time while learning the dance for a quick refresher.

Singles Tinikling Dance

At the start of this dance, the poles are placed on the left sides of two dancers. They have the left foot lead.

Do these steps outside the bamboo poles:

1. Hop on your right foot.

2. Hop another time on the right foot.

Perform these steps between both poles:

3. Step on the left foot.

4. Step on the right foot.

Do these steps outside the poles:

5. Hop on the left foot outside the poles.

6. Hop again on the left foot outside both poles.

Return to between the poles for these steps:

7. Step on your right foot.

8. Step on your left foot.

Doubles Tinikling Dance

For the foot work for these Tinikling steps, both dancers should start to the right side by the bamboo poles.

Do these steps outside the bamboo poles:

1. Hop on both feet.

2. Hop another hop on both feet.

Hop between the poles for these steps:

3. Hop on both feet.

4. Do another hop using both feet.

Straddle the poles as you jump outside them for these steps:

5. Hop on both feet.

6. Again, hop on both feet.

Go between the poles again to finish the dance:

7. Hop on both feet.

8. Do another hop on both feet.

These are the basics of the Tinikling, though the dance can be embellished with other steps for both singles and doubles, including arm movements.

Binasuan

The Binasuan is performed by dancers as they carry full wine glasses in both hands and on top of their heads. Wine is traditionally used in the dance, but any dark-colored beverage will do. The dance often involves balancing tricks, so there are no specific moves that are set in stone. If you'd like to try the Binasuan though, these steps will get you started. Consider practicing with empty, plastic cups until you get the hang of the movements.

  1. Step in a flowing motion onto the center of your performance area. As you step, balance the wine glass carefully on your head. Also, keep your hands turned up to balance both wine glasses.
  2. Sway your hips to the right while lifting the wine glasses high above your head.
  3. Sway your hips to the left while lifting the wine glasses high above your head.
  4. Twirl in place quickly while balancing the wine glasses for thirty seconds, concluding the twirl with your face to the audience.
  5. Step forward with your right foot and bring your right arm forward in a flowing motion.
  6. Step forward with your left foot and bring your left arm forward in a flowing motion.
  7. Rotate your arms over your shoulder in small, circular motions as you step from left to right in small, quick motions for 30 seconds.
  8. Twirl and rotate your arms below shoulder height.

Sinulog

The Sinulog is a ritual dance that is performed in honor of Santo Niño. It's now a part of the annual Sinulog festival, and dancers wear brightly colored, traditional costumes for it. Drum music must accompany this entire dance.

  1. Stand straight and offer candles (real or symbolic) towards a painting or other depiction of Santo Niño.
  2. Recite a prayer to the saint.
  3. Using slow, steady movements, bounce with your torso in a wave-like, circular motion.
  4. Continuing the flowing movements, take two steps forward.
  5. Take one step backward as you try to keep the steady movements.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 for as long as the drums are playing.
  7. Conclude the dance with a prayer.

Seedling

The Seedling dance pays homage to the rich history of farming within the culture. Before the start of this dance, take a round basket in your arms. A wicker or wooden basket best represents the feel of the traditional dance.

  1. Bend your knees as that represents climbing and descending.
  2. Keeping your knees bent, step forward with one foot, then with the order. Go left and right as you do this.
  3. In a fluid motion, lift the basket to the left. Doing the same motion, lift the basket to the right. Keep your steps alternating between stepping to your left and stepping to your right. When you step to your left, coordinate the lifting of the basket to the left. When you step to the right, lift the basket to the right. The fluidity of motion is key to doing the dance correctly.
  4. Repeat step 3 multiple times - the length will depend on the music. You should appear to be effortlessly carrying the basket.
  5. Keeping your movement fluid, sit the basket down in front of you. Step to the left and step to the right around it. Never stop moving. You may improvise in your dance around the basket.
  6. Take the pretend "seeds" from the basket and make tossing movements as you would offer them to Diwata, a dryad-like spirit in Philippine mythology.

Dugso, a Tribal Dance

While the majority of the Philippines' cultural dances are formed by adding the influences of foreign groups to their own traditional dances, there are corners of the country where no foreign influence has yet changed the traditional dances of the region. These areas are in the hills and mountains of the country and dance is used as a form of worship, bringing a special and significant meaning that goes beyond basic folk dance. Dugso is a stand-out among tribal dances, and it is choreographed in portions to please and entertain the various tribes' gods and deities.

Dinatag

As part of the Dugso, the Dinatag serves as the introduction to the dance. For the Dinatag, dancers should join arms in a T-shaped position and movements should be as fluid as possible.

  1. Brush your left foot backwards, then bring your left foot to meet your right foot.
  2. Step to the left with your left foot, bringing your body sideways.
  3. Brush your left foot backwards from your new position, then bring your left foot to meet your right foot.
  4. Step to the left again with your left foot, bringing your body sideways again, so you are now turned around from your original position.
  5. Step to your right, then tap your left foot to meet your right foot.
  6. Step to your left in a sideways motion.
  7. Step to your right again, then tap your left foot to meet your right foot.
  8. Step to your left in a sideways motion.
  9. Brush your right foot backward, then tap your right foot to meet your left foot.
  10. Step to your right in a sideways motion.
  11. Step your left foot across in front of your right foot.
  12. Tap your right foot to meet your left movement, moving to the right.
  13. Step your left foot behind you, across your right foot.
  14. Step to the right sideways.
  15. Step your left foot behind you again, across your right foot.
  16. Step to the right sideways.
  17. Repeat all steps 1 to 16.

The Itik-Itik

Have fun with this dance. The Itik-Itik is sometimes described as humans making the motions of a duck, so feel free to improvise along with these basic steps.

  1. Step to your left and raise your left arm up in a flowing motion.
  2. Step to your right and raise your right arm up in a flowing motion.
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 seven times.
  4. Step forward and bring your hands into your chest, bending your elbows and making sure to point your hands inward. Repeat seven times.
  5. Step in a circle as you sway your arms to the right, then to the left.
  6. Raise your arm and step hop to the left.
  7. Raise your arm and step hop to the right.
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 five times.
  9. Sway to the right, then to the left. Repeat six times.
  10. Repeat all steps three times.

Explore More Folk Dancing

Continue to explore Filipino folk dance. Hundreds of these folk dances tell unique stories, and it's entertaining to learn their histories and how to do the dance steps. This style isn't made up of simple counts and movements, instead it flows together as simple dances interwoven with tradition and history. Sign up for a local dance class or study the step sheets and videos here to learn these fun and meaningful dances.

Filipino Folk Dance Steps