Bamboo Stick Dance

9 12 2009

Another aspect of Filipino culture that I’ve heard of but never really researched was the Filipino stick dance. After looking at a few videos of the dance, it reminds me a lot of Chinese jumprope. However, the origins of the dance are far different than a simple child’s game of Chinese jumprope, where two ropes are held parallel and the player has to use two feet to step in the ropes, outside the ropes, on one side, on the other side, and step on top of the two ropes. In kawayan, the name of the stick game, two 9-foot bamboo poles are placed horizontally and parallel to one another. The sticks are tapped together and then on the ground to special counts. If the player’s foot got caught in between the poles, they received a shock because the poles were painful when they hit the person’s ankles. From back in the day, slaves were taken from the fields and forced to play the game, but the poles were usually full of thorns, making the game even more painful. Nowadays, the dance is often performed at weddings as a Filipino tradition. Of course the participants ankles are not slapped, but it is a reminder of Filipino roots.

-Lauren Quach




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