SINGKIL- PHILIPPINES: Dance of a Princess inspired from an epic folklore

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Singkil Dance, Philippines

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Singkil is a very unique Philippines traditional dance of the Maranao people in Southern Philippines. It is said to be inspired by the age-old Hindu epic “Ramayana” and another mythological epic from South East Asia called “Darangen“. This “folk” dance is said to have originated from the Lake Lanao region in the island of Mindanao in Southern Philippines. It was first popularised by the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company. Apparently this dance is mainly performed during festive occasions. Furthermore, it also possesses a few adaptations which include a dance referred to as Rajah Bantugan. In addition, this dance style was first used in the 2001 American independent film known as “The Debut” which was directed by a Filipino American named Gene Cajayon.

The dance involves rich ornamental costumes and a female lead and male lead and other dancers elegantly dancing between rhythmically striking bamboo poles held by the fellow dance troupe. There are many bamboo pole based dances in the world but this one has a distinctive flair about it.

History/origin of the Singkil:

According to the cultural history of the Philippines, this form of dancing is said to have been developed and created by people living in the Lake Lanao area. Apparently, this dance form was created from a story written in the “Darangen”, an epic belonging to Maranao community which draws inspiration from the Hindu epic Ramayana. Furthermore, this dance was originally performed mostly by women belonging to the royal family. In addition, it was a dance company called “Bayanihan” that popularised this dance form around the western world by adapting it in accordance to the taste of the westerners.

Costumes used in the Singkil:

A Maranaw costume is mainly worn in this form of dancing. In addition, the female lead dancer wears an elaborate dress of a princess and holds “decorated fans” in both hands, while the male lead dancer holds either handkerchiefs in both hands and in some cases a sword and a shield.

Music involved in the Singkil:

The musical instruments used in this dance form are the kotiyapi i.e. bamboo guitar, insi i.e. bamboo flute, kobing i.e. harp, and tintikan i.e. metal sticks.


Also READ : ITIK-ITIK- PHILIPPINES: A dance inspired by ‘movements of a duck’.

Training availability and the technique involved in the Singkil:

In terms of technique, this dance involves the lead dancer (i.e. female) locally known as “Putri Gandingan” (the name of Sita as mentioned in the Darangen) gracefully stepping in and out of closing bamboo poles that are arranged on the floor in either a parallel, rectangular, and criss-cross manner. In addition, the performer also uses either apir i.e. fans or mosala i.e. scarves while dancing. As for training availability, there are none available around the world since this “folk” dance is mainly performed in the Lake Lanao region in the Philippines.

Singkil Dance Video : Source – YouTube:


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